Aster (Gr. aσυnp, a star), a genus of plants of the great family of compositae, so widespread as to induce Lindley to give its name to the whole family, asteracece. The' plants popularly called asters belong to several genera, but the typical genus is by far the richest in species. Although many parts of the world, as China, the Cape of Good Hope, the Alps, and Siberia, furnish species, many of great beauty, America, and especially New England, seems most amply supplied. Of nearly 200 species cultivated in Europe, 150 are natives of North America. They are mostly perennial, with co-rymbed, panicled, or racemose heads; flowers radiate, the rays white, purple, or blue, and fertile, the disk yellow or reddish. In the cultivated species the disk flowers give place to repeated series of ray flowers, and assume the appearance of the well known China asters. The finest American species are: A. Novae Angliae, whose erect, narrow-leafed stem, 3 to 8 feet high, crowned with large corymbed heads of violet-purple flowers, is often seen by the roadsides; A. puniceus, with a purplish stem, serrate leaves, purple or blue flowers in panicles, found with the preceding, but taller, 6 to 10 feet; A. Iaevis, macrophyllus, specta-uilis, horizontalis, Californicus, and mutabilis versicolor, all worth cultivating; the last two change color with age.
In England they are all called Christmas or Michaelmas daisies. The Chinese pay special attention to the cultivation of many species of this genus, and the results of their skill have been introduced in America and are favorites with horticulturists. The first China asters were brought to Europe early in the 18th century. Asters require a free, rich soil, and moderate exposure to the sun. The Chinese cultivate them almost exclusively in pots. A. argyrophyllus, a native of New Holland, is a shrubby species, growing to the height of 10 feet; the flowers are very numerous in little heads, whitish gray with yellow disk, and smelling strongly of musk; this species is half-hardy in southern England. A. cmlestis, from the Cape of Good Hope, is a hothouse plant, blooming the whole year; the flowers sky-blue, disk yellow.
China Aster, Double.
Aster. I. Ernst Ludwig von, a German military engineer, born in Dresden in November, 1778, died in Berlin, Feb. 10, 1855. In 1794 he entered the corps of engineers in the Saxon army, in which his father had held high rank. He was made lieutenant in 1800, and captain in 1809. A plan made by him for the fortification of Torgau attracted the attention of Napoleon, who adopted it; the fortress was finished under Aster's superintendence, and after the Russian campaign, in which he took part, he was appointed its commander. Soon after this he left the Saxon for the Russian service. He fought at Bautzen and Leipsic, and distinguished himself by several expeditions with a detachment of Cossacks which he commanded. In 1813 he reentered the Saxon service, and in 1814 was made colonel. In 185 he entered the Prussian engineer corps, and took part in the battles of Ligny and Waterloo and in several sieges. In the same year he was made a general, and inspector of the Prussian fortifications. He now established his reputation as a master of his art by the construction of the great fortresses of Coblentz and Ehrenbreit-stein. Of these he was appointed commander in 1825, still holding the office of inspector general. He became a lieutenant general in 1827, and in 1842 general of infantry.
He was also made a councillor in 1837. He left a collection of essays and volumes, published together after his death, under the title Nach-gelassene Schriften (5 vols., Berlin, 1856-61). See also the work of Eiler, Betrachtungen und Urtheile E. L. von Asters uber die politi-sche?i, kirchlichen und paddagogischen Partei-vewegungen unsers Jahrhunderts (2 vols., Saar-brticken, 1858-'9). II. Karl Heinrieh von, brother of the preceding, born in Dresden, Feb. 4, 1782, died there, Dec. 23, 1855. He entered the Saxon artillery corps in 1796, and took part in the battle of Jena. He was soon afterward temporarily assigned to a professorship in the military school at Dresden, and was made lieutenant colonel in 1831. He retired in 1834, and received the honorary rank of colonel in 1844. He wrote many military works, and his Lehre vom Festungskriege (2 vols., Dresden, 1812; 3d ed., 1835) is a text book on the subject of fortifications in the Prussian military schools, and has been translated into several languages.