Life under the Lights

A long way from its native home in Southern Ontario, this beautiful purple flower is better known as ‘crooked-stem’ or ‘zig-zag’ aster (Symphyotrichum prenanthoides), named for its distinctive stem. Unfortunately, due to habitat destruction, including the clearing of forests and alteration of waterways, this species has been unable to zig-zag its way out of becoming rare. A Special Concern species in Canada, it is known from less than 30 populations in Southern Ontario, found along the moist riverbanks and lush, hardwood forest edges.

This individual pictured was grown from seeds a landowner sent the McCune lab at the University of Lethbridge (Southern Alberta, Canada) greenhouses. Learning how to grow at-risk plant species for reintroduction back into the wild one day is part of my PhD research based in Ontario.  My research objective and personal motivation as a conservation botanist, is to ensure the long-term safeguarding of species at-risk.