The Aster family (Asteraceae) is one of the largest plant families in the world, with nearly 24,000 unique species. These plants are also known as “composite” flowers, since their flower heads are usually made up of a cluster of tiny flowers surrounded by larger petals. Each of these minute clustered flowers forms a seed, and at the Irvine Ranch Conservancy Native Seed Farm, those seeds are ready to be harvested. Native asters are some of the last blooming flowers of the season, so you can see the final pops of wildflowers while helping restore native habitat across the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks.
Volunteering at the Native Seed Farm is easy, and is even open to kids ages 8 and up. Volunteers receive training in native plant identification, information on how plants reproduce, and background on where the seeds go after they are harvested. All tools and training are provided, and the activities take place before the day gets too warm. Right now, there are three different aster species ready to be harvested at the farm: