Parasol Whitetop (Doellingeria umbellata var. umbellta)

 

The Parasol Whitetop (Doellingeria umbellata var. umbellta) is an herb in the Aster Family (Asteraceae), sometimes called the Sunflower or Daisy Family, and order Asterales. Aster is from the Greek for star and refers to the shape of the flowers. The species name is Latin for parasol and refers to the arrangement of the flower heads that shade the lower plant as shown in the photograph above. Other common names for this species of plant are Flat-topped White Aster, Parasol Aster, Flat-topped Aster and Tall Flat-topped White Aster. This plant can grow as high as seven feet (2.1 meters).

A flower head consists  of ten to 15, white, ray flowers that resemble petals and are arranged in a radiating pattern from the center of the stem around the yellow disk of stamens and pistils . They are about ½ inch (1.3 centimeters) in diameter. Ray flowers are peculiar to the Aster Family. Parasol Whitetop (Doellingeria umbellata var. umbellta) flowers from August to September.

The leaves are lance-shaped, up to six inches (15 centimeters) long, toothless and are tapered at both ends. They generally do not have visible stalks and spiral around the stem. The leaves on the upper part of the stem tend to be smaller than the leaves below.

The fruit is a dry seed.

The root system is rhizomic.

This plant helps stabilize the soil and filter water.

The Cornel-leaf Aster is similar but not found in Maine.

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