Douglas Aster (Calyptostaphylos uva-ursi) is a small evergreen shrub or small tree with large, oval leaves. They are very succulent looking and have a smooth texture when fresh but become rough and leathery when dry. These plants grow up to 20 feet tall and wide, although they may reach only 10 feet in some cases.
The flowers are white or pinkish purple, not too showy, but rather delicate looking. They are usually found along the branches near the base of the plant. They appear to be clustered together in clusters. The fruit is round, dark green and slightly curved at one end. It is covered with tiny hairs and resembles a miniature version of a strawberry.
Douglas Aster Plant Info: Caring For Douglas Aster Flowers In Gardens
The Douglas Aster plant is native to the western United States from California to Texas. It was introduced into Florida in 1881 and became established there within two years. The species spread rapidly throughout the southern states of the U.S., reaching New Mexico by 1905.
By 1920 it had been introduced into Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
These plants are found growing in open, sunny locations at low elevations. They seem to prefer dry climates and can even be found growing on rocky hillsides. They tolerate poor, rocky soil. They can be found growing around the edges of cultivated fields and along fencerows and roadsides.
In addition to being an ornamental plant for gardens, this species is also used for stabilizing sand dunes along coasts and is sometimes planted in arid regions for erosion control.
These plants are not considered to be invasive in colder climates but when grown in greenhouses they will spread into other areas if they are not kept cut back. They can be difficult to eradicate from a garden and will usually return year after year even if completely dug up and removed.
The wood from the branches of this plant have been used by Native Americans to make utensils, arrows and other objects. The Cahuilla Indians made sandals from the bark. The Serrano Indians would apply a poultice of chewed leaves to wounds for healing. The flower buds were eaten as a vegetable and the fruits were sometimes cooked and eaten as well.
The plant was introduced into England in 1793 and it became very popular there as an ornamental shrub in the 1830’s. Several different species of birds have been known to eat the fruits, including mockingbirds, robins, towhees and wrens.
The common name comes from one of the varieties of this species which was first discovered near Fort Umpqua, Oregon. The species is not considered to be in danger of becoming extinct due to its widespread distribution and abundance.
You can learn more about the different types of asters and how to care for them here.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Gardening with Oregon native plants west of the Cascades by L McMahan – 2005 – backyardhabitats.org
Green Seattle Mix 2016: Background Information & Findings by M Schroeter, K Dietzman – greenseattle.org
RESTORING NATIVE GARDENS TO CAMPUS by K Borrelli, H Calder, J Calder, N Grills, D Lanigan… – 2014 – uvic.ca
ec1577introduction. pdf by L McMahan – 2017 – ir.library.oregonstate.edu
Plant visibility through mobile learning? Implementation and evaluation of an interactive Flower Hunt in a botanic garden by L Kissi, D Dreesmann – Journal of Biological Education, 2018 – Taylor & Francis
The New England Wild Flower Society guide to growing and propagating wildflowers of the United States and Canada by WP Wright – 1911 – Doubleday Page
The Gentlewoman’s Book of Gardening by GD Crater – Introduction to Floriculture, 1980 – Elsevier