Sun: Full to partial

Moisture: Dry to medium

Height: 2-4'

Bloom Time: Aug-Oct

Bloom Color: Sky blue

Genotype: Winona, MN (shares a Level II ecosystem, Mixed Woods Plains, with Southeastern Michigan).


Usually found in higher-quality natural areas, this aster's pretty powdery-blue flowers attract a range of native bees. Host plant to the Pearl Crescent and the Silvery Checkerspot butterflies and many moths.


The odd species name, "oolentangsiense," is a mistake: American botanist John Leonard Riddell named it for the site where he found the plant, near Ohio's Olentangy River, but incorrectly used two "o's" when transcribing his new species name. He also found a new goldenrod in Ohio, now known as Oligoneuron riddellii.


Riddell is also regarded as the first science fiction author, with his 1847 story Orrin Lindsay's Plan of Aerial Navigation, with a Narrative of His Explorations in the Higher Regions of the Atmosphere, and His Wonderful Voyage Round the Moon! The spacecraft, made of poplar wood, was described as a "Magnetic Balloon," and was furnished with a table, chair, and "a box of philosophical instruments."


Riddell, also a professor of chemistry, correctly guessed that yellow fever was a blood-borne disease (a revolutionary idea in his day) and invented the binocular microscope to study pathogens. 


In addition, he worked as a minter overseeing the production of gold and silver coins at the New Orleans Mint, later served as New Orleans postmaster, and was even elected governor of Louisiana at one point, in an election quickly deemed invalid. 


There doesn't seem to have been much dust on John Leonard Riddell; "his" bright yellow goldenrod and blue aster are as colorful as his kaleidoscopic career.



Riddell's science fiction story may be read here:

Symphyotrichum oolentangiense (Sky Blue Aster)