Eurybia macrophylla (L.) Cassini

Remark The words or terms in red (actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a glossary.


sep_27_01.gthmb can't be loaded. Eurybia macrophylla (previously usually known as Aster macrophyllus) is a perennial forb native to North America. It is a widespread ground cover than can form large dense colonies. Bloom stems are infrequent and look little like the dense ground covering growth. The plant belongs to the Asteraceae family.

Name

In Greek so that Eurybia macrophylla would be a strong plant with big leaves, which is kind of the case.

Actually, ευρυβιασ (eurybias) and ευρυβιησ (eurybiês) are related to Eurybia of the Greek mythology. In Greek mythology, Eurybia was married to the titan Crius and gave birth to three known offspring Astraios, Perses, and Pallas. She was a minor Sea Goddess under the dominion of Poseidon. Her parents were Pontos and Gaia. To be married to a titan you have to be very strong, powerful, which might again qualify the genus.

In Greek mythology, Eurybia was also one of Thespius's daughter. Thespius was a legendary king of Thespiae, Boeotia. He was reportedly son of Erechtheus, King of Athens and Praxithea. His maternal grandparents were Phrasimus and Diogenia. Diogenia was daughter of the river god Cephissus. He married Megamede, daughter of Arneus. They reportedly had fifty daughters together. Though Thespius may have fathered some of the daughters from unnamed mistresses with Megamede being their stepmother.

All his daughters came of marrying age but Thespius seems to have sought no husband for them. He instead desired grandchildren from the hero Heracles. When Heracles was assigned to kill a lion (not to be confused with the Nemean Lion), Thespius offered his fifty daughters as a prize. The hunt for the lion lasted fifty days, and during each night of the hunt Heracles slept with each of the fifty daughters, who in turn each gave birth to one son. Alternate sources claim that Heracles slept with the daughters in a single night. In this version, only forty-nine slept with the hero, with the fiftieth being destined to serve as a virgin priestess in a temple to Herakles. In this version there were fifty-one grandsons of Thespius, of which forty colonized the island of Sardinia. The daughters are often referred to as the Thespiades. As for Eurybia, one of the fifty daughters, she was the mother of Polylaus. And being, even for a single night, the wife of Heracles, you had to be very strong, powerful, which might again qualify the genus. draw.jpg can't be loaded. (The daughters of Thespius were the subject of a 1853 painting by Gustave Moreau).

As for Aster macrophyllus, in Greek, αστηρ (aster) means star, and the genus name refers then to the shape of the flower head.

Common names

Some of the vernacular names of Eurybia macrophylla are Bigleaf Aster, Largeleaf Aster and Lumberjack Toilet Paper (see the remarks below for the origin of this last name). The French names are Aster à grandes feuilles and Pétouane.

Synonyms

Eurybia macrophylla has also been known as:

Identification

Eurybia macrophylla is distinguished by its very large, soft, thick, heart-shaped leaves. Aster ciliolatus is a bit similar, but its basal leaves are usually smaller and with winged leafstalks. Aster cordifolius is a bit similar too, but its leaves are quite smaller and more coarsely toothed. sep_27_02.gthmb can't be loaded.

Description

The flowering stalk, when present, ranges to 5 feet in height, is usually hairy, with a short, woody base and is sticky with small glands. The plant sometimes forms a carpet of leaves, with only a few plants flowering.

Leaves

Flower heads Fruits

A linear (achene) with a small pappus.

Habitat

The plant can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil, but not wet, and an acid soil of pH between 5 and 6. It occurs across a broad range of forest habitats, and also in open woodlands, in clearings and fields, along forest margins, roadsides and on disturbed ground.

Distribution

map_na.jpg can't be loaded. One can find Eurybia macrophylla in northeastern USA and southern Canada, in the USA from Ohio and Minnesota in the west to New England (US) and Nova Scotia (canada) in the east, southward to Georgia and Missouri. Occasionally the species is naturalized in Britain. The map, from Flora of North America, shows the US States and Canadian provinces where Eurybia macrophylla can be found.

Remarks

The Indians are said to have made a tea for headache and used the dried leaves in lieu of tobacco. Young leaves have been collected for spring greens.

As the first settlers of North America moved into the woods the use of this plant as a backwoods replacement for toilet paper became popular. Many outdoor enthusiasts will still find this plant a suitable alternative when they are unprepared for the call of nature during the snow-free seasons in the northland.

Gallery

The photos of the gallery were taken either with one of the following: The title in the window shows the date when the picture was taken, i.e. jan_30_06... would mean that the photo was taken on the 30th of January, the 06 is for the 6th picture taken that day.

The month, day and picture number might be followed by a letter:

and if there is no letter it's obviously the Minolta.

Click on the thumbnails to get larger view. The original photos are usually in TIFF format, the photos shown are generally in JPEG format, usually of dimension one half (surface one quarter) for loading time reduction.

Plants

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Inflorescence

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Flower heads

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Leaves

The two pictures on the left, bottom side of a nasal leaf and its upper side, were scanned at 150 dpi, and the dimensions were then reduced by 2 (area reduction by 4). The third picture on the was scanned at 300 dpi, without reduction. The fourth picture, of leaves on the stem, was a scan at 300 dpi, and the dimensions were also reduced by 2 (area reduction by 4). This allows to measure the dimensions of the leaves.

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