Aster [Lat, "star"], the common name applied mainly to 2 herbaceous genera (Aster and Callistephus) of flowering plants in family Compositae or Asteraceae. Over 250 species of true Aster are known worldwide. Of 52 Aster species native to Canada, about 40 have been brought under cultivation. A. alpinus and A. campestris of the Rocky Mountains are most popular for alpine gardens. Canadian species are mostly perennial, late-season flowering and are usually blue, purple, pink or white. Plants have alternate, simple leaves and large clusters of showy flower heads, usually comprising a central disc surrounded by showy rays. Wild asters are found in prairie, forest and desert areas. Some species are woody at base.
China aster (Callistephus chinensis), introduced from China in 1731, is now among the most popular of cut flowers, being diverse in form and providing blue shades, rare in the related chrysanthemum. Infusions of Aster roots were used by some Canadian Natives as remedies for cuts, heart ailments or eye problems.