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What is Astrantia?

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  • Written By: Vasanth S.
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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Astrantia is a plant genus that is part of the Apiaceae family. It contains about three species, each with several varieties. These deciduous perennials are native to Europe. Most of the plants feature lobed leaves that are arranged in a rosette and clusters of flowers that sit atop erect stems. Landscapers utilize these plants in flower beds or borders, while florists use the cut flowers in various arrangements. Although Astrantia is a versatile group of plants, the genus is affected by fungal diseases.

The exact origin of the genus name isn't known, but it is assumed that Astrantia is derived from the Greek word astron, which translates to "star." This describes the star-like shape of the flower head on the plants in the Astrantia genus. As a whole, the plants are commonly called "masterwort." Individual varieties of Astrantia major have variations on the common name. For example, the dark-red flowering variety is called masterwort Moulin Rouge, and the white flowering variety is called masterwort large white.

Masterwort is distributed throughout Europe and some species extend into western Asia. The many varieties of Astrantia major grow in Switzerland and Denmark. Astrantia maxima is found in several European countries.

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The Moulin Rouge variety of masterwort grows about 18 inches (45 cm) tall and about 16 inches (40 cm) wide. The foliage consists of green leaves that have multiple lobes originating from a common point. This plant has several branching stems that create a clump-like or bushy appearance. Sitting atop the stems are the flowers.

This variety consists of dark red flowers with purplish-red tips. The flowers are arranged in umbels, which is a flower arrangement that consists of several short, erect flower stalks bunched together in a cluster. All the flowering stalks are the same height and originate from a common point. The bloom season typically lasts from early summer to early autumn.

Moulin Rouge does well in most types of soil including loamy, sandy, and clay. It can also tolerate soil that has an acidic or alkaline pH. For best results, a well-draining soil that is rich in humus is recommended. The flower bed or border in which this plant is grown should be somewhat sheltered and partially shaded from the sun.

The only problem one may encounter when growing this plant is the presence of powdery mildew, which is a fungal disease. Its symptoms include white powder on the leaves, shoot tips, and flowers. The spores tend to overwinter in dead leaves and infect plants the following season. Applying a fungicide to the plant generally eliminates the infection.

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