The Aster flower: Its Meanings and Symbolism
Asters are a popular daisy-like flower that have grown wild since ancient times. Many people are surprised to learn that the aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) and the New England aster (Symphyotrichum novaeangliae) that blanket the roadsides along the eastern coast of the United States aren’t really asters at all. These aster look-a-likes have been reclassified, but still carry aster in their common names. The only wild aster in the U.S is the Alpine aster (aster alpinus). Asters have enjoyed a colorful history and are part of many legends.
What does the aster flower mean?
The meaning of the aster flower differs depending on the presentation, but it’s common meanings are:
- Love of Variety
- Afterthought (or the wish things happened differently)
Etymological Meaning of the Aster Flower
Like many flowers, the aster has the same scientific name as its common name. It came from the Greek word for “star” to describe the star-like flowers.
Symbolism of the Aster Flower
The aster has enjoyed a rich cultural history filled with legends of magical gods and goddesses.
- The ancient Greeks burned aster leaves to ward off both snakes and evil spirits.
- According to Greek mythology, when the god Jupiter decided to flood the earth to destroy the warring men, the goddess Astraea was so upset she asked to be turned into a star. Her wish was granted, but when the flood waters receded she wept for the loss of lives. As her tears turned to stardust and fell to earth, the beautiful aster flower sprung forth.
- Another Greek legend claims that when King Aegeus’ son Theseus volunteered to slay the Minotaur, he told his father he would fly a white flag on his return to Athens to announce his victory. But, Theseus forgot to change the flags and sailed into port with black flags flying. Believing his son to be killed by the Minotaur, King Aegeus promptly committed suicide. It is believed that asters sprung forth where his blood stained the earth.
- Asters were believed to be sacred to the gods and were used in wreaths placed on altars.
According to Cherokee legend, two young Indian girls who hid in the woods to avoid warring tribes sought the help of an herb woman. While the girls slept, the old woman foresaw the future and knew the girls were in danger. She sprinkled herbs over the girls and covered them with leaves. In the morning, the two sisters has turned into flowers. The one wearing the blue fringed dress became the first aster flower.
England & Germany
Both the English and the Germans believed the aster held magical powers.
The aster was known as the eye of Christ in France. Asters were laid on the graves of dead soldiers to symbolize the wish that things had turned out differently in battle.
The aster is the birth flower for the month of September and the flower for the 20th wedding anniversary.
The Aster Flower Facts
Asters are a genus of flowers from the Asteraceae family. It includes about 180 species of flowering plants. All asters produce clusters of tiny daisy-like flowers. While wild asters are typically run the purple and blue range, cultivated varieties may be pink, blue, purple, lavender and white. As cut flowers, asters have a long vase life and may last up to two weeks.
Aster Flower Color Meanings
The color of the aster flower does not affect the meaning of the flower. All asters are a symbol of patience and elegance.
Meaningful Botanical Characteristics of the Aster Flower
The aster has been used in a variety of ways throughout history, most commonly as a means to appeal to the gods or ward off evil, but there are some other uses, too.
- The ancient Greeks made an ointment from asters to heal the effects of a bite from a mad dog.
- Asters boiled in wine and placed near a beehive were thought to improve the flavor of honey.
- Asters are used in some Chinese herbal remedies.
The aster flower’s message depends on the circumstances. It symbolizes fond remembrance or wishing things were different when placed on a grave, but symbolizes elegance in your fall decor. Offering a potted plant of asters is a great way to welcome a new friend to the neighborhood.