This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Greek words for beautiful crown, said to be in allusion to character of fruit). Compositae. China Aster. (See page 419, Vol. 1.) One species in China and Japan. The genus Callistemma, also erected by Cassini, is older than Callistephus, but the latter is one of the "nomina conservanda" of the Vienna code, retained because accepted and in general use for fifty years following its publication. Under both these generic names, Cassini described the China aster as C. hortensis. It was first named by Linnaeus, however, as Aster chinensis, and Nees subsequently transferred this name to Callistephus, so that the plant now would better bear the name Callistephus chinensis, Nees.
Callistephus is closely allied to Aster, from which it differs, among other things, in its pappus, which is minute and forming a crown in the outer series, and of slender longer barbellate and caducous bristles in the inner series: annual, erect, hispid-hairy branching herbs, with showy terminal flower-heads: leaves alternate, broadly ovate or triangular-ovate and deeply and irregularly toothed; blade decurrent into a petiole, those on the upper parts becoming spatulate or narrower: heads in wild plant heterogamous and radiate, the ray-florets in 1-2 series and pistillate, the disk-florets perfect and fertile; involucre hemispherical, the bracts imbricated in many series and the outer ones large and green: fruit a compressed achene. The rays become much multiplied under cultivation, and they are also variable in size, shape and color. The colors are violet, purple, blue and white, the rays never being true yellow. Widely variable under cultivation, and one of the best of the garden annuals, growing from 6 in. to 2 1/2 ft. high. It is the Reine-marguerite of the French and the Sommeraster of the Germans. l.