Agreement to protect flower across Southeast

photo Purple aster bush

ATLANTA - A threatened flower called the Georgia aster that once flourished across the Southeast may find better protection now that a utility company, highway crews and local governments are promising steps to protect it.

The purple aster grows best in woodlands and prairies with plenty of sunshine and acidic soils. Scientists say it once flourished across much of the Southeast before large grazing animals were pushed out of the region and humans started controlling wildfires, which naturally clear land and create the conditions favorable for the flower. It's now found in parts of Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.

While natural prairie land has decreased, the flower can be found on sun-exposed land when humans create prairie-like conditions.