There are lots of wild asters in North America. Blue wood aster is common on wooded East-coast slopes and tolerates shade better than most of its relatives. Blue wood asters have been planted at Mustila where they thrive in the shade of the Rock (Sugar) Maples (Acer saccharum) south of the Festival Area. The large, heart-shaped leaves effectively cover the ground, and in late summer blue wood aster puts out tall stems with big blue florets.
The large family of asters has had to be subdivided in recent years. As a result, the Aster genus proper now consists only of Eurasian species; the American asters have been divided into some ten new families. The largest of these is Symphyotrichum with about 90 species, including the blue wood aster.
Asters are fine autumn perennials that have been cultivated to produce larger blossom than the wild varieties. The range of wild species and cultivated varieties is huge, and growers in the Northern countries should choose ones that manage to flower in the brief summer and are not too prone to disease.