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Autumn Cosmopolitans. Persicaria amplexicaulis, Mountain Fleece, and Aster novi-belgii, New York Aster, Botanische Tuin Fryslân "De Kruidhof", Buitenpost, Friesland, The Netherlands | by Rana Pipiens
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Autumn Cosmopolitans. Persicaria amplexicaulis, Mountain Fleece, and Aster novi-belgii, New York Aster, Botanische Tuin Fryslân "De Kruidhof", Buitenpost, Friesland, The Netherlands

Autumn is fast upon us here in the north of The Netherlands. But in the fine botanical garden "De Kruidhof" these two blooms still stand strongly despite the winds and cold rain. They're both used to these conditions.

Our Aster hails originally from the Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam, today New York. Autumn there - Indian Summer - is brightly colorful but it can be ferociously cold too. Mountain Fleece comes from the Himalayan regions of Nepal and the Uttar Pradesh (India); think early Winters, strong winds, snow and ice.

New York Aster came to Europe from North America before the work of Great Carolus Linnaeus (1753). Persicaria amplexicaulis - then called Polygonum amplexicaule - was first introduced to Europe (England) by Hugh Falconer (1808-1865). Falconer was an intrepid Scottish naturalist with great administrative skills as well - he was superintendent of the Saharunpur Botanical Garden in northern India west northwest of Nepal and later of the Botanical Garden of Calcutta. Mainly a palaeontologist and geologist, he's especially famous for first devising the idea of punctuated equilibrium for the process of evolution. Ah! the breadth of knowledge of men and women like him and their indefatigable interest in the World!

According to Edward's Botanical Register (1838) and Curtis's Botanical Magazine (1880) this Persicaria was brought to England in 1835/1836 by Falconer. There's a fine drawing of it in Edward's but the one in Curtis's is, I think, better. The latter plant was grown from seed which the Kew Gardens had procured from another great Scottisch botanist, James Edward Tierney Aitchieson (1836-1898), who collected plants in northern Inda and Afghanistan between 1861 and 1885.

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Taken on September 12, 2012