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Autumn's Asters weekend: Shawnee State Forest, September 14 - 16

The beautiful stiff-leaved aster, Ionactis linariifolius, one of myriad members of the aster family that is found in Shawnee State Forest and vicinity.

I have been remiss in plugging what promises to be a wonderful conference in one of the showiest regions of Ohio. On the weekend of September 14-16, the Midwest Native Plant Society is hosting Autumn's Asters (GO HERE for details), an event geared towards the diverse and beautiful aster family. This is the 2nd largest plant family in Ohio (only eclipsed by the sedge family), and includes many familiar groups of plants such as asters, goldenrods, and sunflowers. In Shawnee State Forest, where this event takes place, the aster family IS the largest family of plants.

There will be field trips to interesting locales to see interesting plants, and of course and as always, we will see lots of other subjects. Mid-September is near peak for southbound songbird migration in this area, and there should be warblers galore. Butterflies will still be going strong and we can expect to record many species. Pollinating insects will also be present in great diversity and numbers, and nocturnal forays around the lodge should produce lots of interesting caterpillars and moths.

Naturalist Penny Borgman will deliver a program on butterflies before dinner on Friday, then at 7 pm your narrator will deliver a program entitled: Asters, sunflowers, thistles and more: Shawnee State Forest’s rich Asteraceae diversity. Here's a brief description of the talk:

The 65,000 acres of Shawnee State Forest has long been known as a biological hotspot. This region’s floristic diversity is incredibly diverse and includes many very rare species for Ohio, some of them at their northern limits. The richest species diversity is represented by the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae). Their ranks include many conspicuous fall blooming plants such as asters, goldenrods, joe-pyes, thistles and much more. One of them, the gall-of-the-earth (Prenanthes trifoliolata) was discovered by this talk’s narrator in 1997 and remains the only known population north of the Ohio River. It is but one of many rare Shawnee Asteraceae members. This presentation will be a pictorial look at asters and their ilk, ways to identify them, and how these plants fit into a larger ecological picture.

Finally, we are excited to have bee and pollinator expert Heather Holm with us. She'll speak Saturday night, and her talk is entitled: Asters and Goldenrods: Autumn’s Pollinator Banquet. Here's a description and Heather's (brief) bio:

Asters are critical late summer and fall forage for native bees including many pollen-collecting specialists.  Heather will explore the nutritional components of the nectar and pollen of asters and their fall-bloooming cousins the goldenrods, and demonstrate the importance of these two groups of plants for native bees as well as migratory pollinating insects such as butterflies.

Heather is an award-winning author and nationally sought-after speaker spending much of her time passionately educating audiences about the fascinating world of native bees and the native plants that support them. Her first book, Pollinators of Native Plants, published in 2014, helped establish her as a knowledgeable resource on the subject of the interactions between native bees and native plants. Her latest book, Bees, published in 2017, has won five book awards.

This promises to be a fun and informative event, and everyone is welcome. For complete details and registration info, CLICK HERE.


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