Nature Almanac for August 2021 and Aster Yellows Disease

Purple Coneflower with Asters Yellow disease
Purple Coneflower with Asters Yellow disease in my garden.

Here in Philadelphia… Some weird stuff has been happening in my garden. As the Purple Coneflower bloomed, I noticed strange flower formations on the plant.

Purple Coneflowers and Aster Yellows Disease

This plant is a cultivated variety called, “Powwow Wild Berry’. I was expecting pretty deep pink flowers. The petals weren’t green but a greenish color.

Purple Coneflower with Asters Yellow disease

And there were these space-y looking flower clusters.

I turned to my Pennsylvania Native Plants Facebook Group for answers. I post the photos and posed the question. After a couple of hours, the native plant lovers in the group identified the problem.

Purple Coneflower with Asters Yellow disease
Flower cluster of Purple Coneflower with Asters Yellow disease

It’s called ‘Aster Yellows’ disease. I hadn’t heard of this disease before. Apparently, it’s caused by a phytoplasm bacteria that lives only in the veins of plants. A sap-sucking insect transmits the disease to plants (not just asters) called the Aster Leafhopper.

Purple Coneflower with Asters Yellow disease
Cue the weird space music. Purple Coneflower with Asters Yellow disease in my garden.

Once the plant’s infected, it never recovers. The folks in the native plant group told me to pull it up immediately and dispose of it. I did.

I didn’t see one insect on any of the flower clusters. They knew to stay away.

The University of Minnesota Extension Service has a good article on the disease. You can read it here.


Pruned Summer Phloxes
Pruned Summer Phloxes

Summer Phloxes

I pruned my Summer Phloxes in a ‘stair-step’ formation with tall plants in the back and descending shortness in the front. It worked. The Phloxes bloomed later and shorter.  These plants are usually about five feet tall. The fence height is four feet, so you can see the flowers are less than four feet.

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth
Clearwing Hummingbird Moth visits Butterfly Bush.

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

I hope you can see it but I captured this photo of a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth sipping nectar from a Butterfly Bush near my community garden plot. Yes, Buddleja davidii is invasive in many places. No, I didn’t plant it in the community garden. I didn’t notice it last year. I found a seedling about twelve inches high growing in my garden plot. It wasn’t there two weeks before. I guess this is how it becomes invasive.


European Skipper (Thymelicus lineola)
European Skipper (Thymelicus lineola) in my garden.

Did You Know?

The Dog Days of Summer end on Wednesday, August 11th. Some of the most oppressive days of summer occur during this time.

Summer is winding down, and autumn is rising.


Summer’s Key Happenings

Summer Solstice – June 20th at 11:32 p.m. EDT in the Northern Hemisphere. For natural-living people, this is summer’s mid-point or high point, not a beginning. Summer begins to “wind down” after this date.

Summer lasts 93 days until the Autumn Equinox on September 22, 2021.

In the Sky This Month:

August 8th – New Black Cherries Moon or Green Corn Moon

August 15th – First Quarter Black Cherries Moon

August 22nd – Full Black Cherries Moon

August 30th – Last Quarter Black Cherries Moon

This month’s moon is called the “Black Cherries” because indigenous black cherries are ripening now. It is also called the “Flying Up”, when young birds would “fledge” develop wing feathers large enough to leave the nest. Green Corn Moon is the when corn is ready for fresh eating corn-on-the-cob.

“The Moon”s path across the sky changes with the seasons. Full Moons are very High in the sky (at midnight) between November and February (winter) and very low in the sky between May and July” – The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2021, p. 102.

Moonrise occurs about 50 minutes later each day.

A full Moon happens every 29.5 days.

Best Fishing – When the Moon is between New and Full.  August 8th – 22nd is when this month’s moon is waxing or growing larger.

Stars in the Summer Sky

Circumpolar Constellations – from latitude 40 degree north – these constellations are always in the sky: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia, Draco, Cepheus, and Camelopaedalis.

Summer Constellations

Leo, Bootes, Virgo, Corvus, Crater, and Cancer are in the night sky.

Meteor Shower in the Sky – The Eta Aquarid Showers are seen during predawn, originating in the southeastern portion of the sky. May 4th is the date for the maximum number of meteors of about 10 per hour. The best viewing is in a dark sky with little light pollution. The Comet we associate the meteors with is Halley’s Comet.

Meteors are fast, moving falling stars. Comets are slow-moving balls of ice and dust.

White Summer Phlox and Rudbeckia "Goldstrum'
White and Pink Summer Phloxes and Rudbeckia “Goldstrum’ in bloom.

Nature Study and Nature Journaling Activities

Nature in Summer: Table of Contents

Summer Nature Journal and Prompts

Autumn Nature Journal and Prompts

That’s it for this issue. Look for the next issue at the end of April.

If you have a comment or suggestion, as always, leave a comment below.

Happy Nature Journaling!

Donna's signature


Past Almanacs and Posts

August 2020 Nature Almanac

Nature Almanac for August 2019

Summer Blooming Flowers

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