For the past month and a half, I’ve been looking for flowers in the aster tribe (Tribe Astereae). I’ve always liked asters. I don’t know why. There’s something about the off-white and pale lavender colors that gets to me.

Flowers in tribe Astereae, probably genus Symphiotrichum

I guess it’s a kind of spiritual experience when I see asters in bloom. Whatever “spiritual” means.

Flowers in tribe Astereae

I’m not able to tell which species of aster I’m looking at. In the genus Symphiotrichum alone, there are 27 species native to New England. Go Botany has a dichotomous key for Symphiotrichum. However, for some species the key requires 14x magnification of the bracts and disk flowers, but all I have is a 10x hand lens.

Flowers in tribe Astereae, probably genus Symphiotrichum

Nevertheless, I should sit down with one of these plants and try to work through the key. Not that it matters what species I’m looking at. Not that it will make the flowers any more (or less) beautiful. But why not observe them more closely?

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