Fleabanes the First Aster-Type Flowers to Bloom

Erigeron annuus flower
Image via Wikipedia Fleabane

Some flowers will bloom and re-bloom and we’ll see them brightening our roadsides and fields until fall. Some of the earliest flowers that stick around for a while are the fleabanes.

Fleabane comes in two often-seen varieties, both having compound flowers with numerous, very thin, strap-like white ray flowers that surround yellow disc flowers.

Daisy fleabane, Erigeron annuus, also known as Sweet Scabious, has ray flowers that are shorter than the width of the central yellow disc. Ray flowers number from 40 to 70, fewer than the common fleabane which has over a hundred rays.

Common fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus, also known as Philadelphia Fleabane, has ray flowers that are about the same length as the width of the central yellow disc.

Daisy fleabane can reach five feet tall, but the shorter common fleabane only gets about three feet tall.

The leaves for both types of fleabane are long, hairy and toothed, but the stem leaves of common fleabane clasp the stem whereas the leaves of daisy fleabane do not clasp the stem.

Common fleabane may start flowering in April and end in August, while daisy fleabane flowers later in the season and longer, from June to October. Since the flowering times of daisy fleabane and common fleabane overlap in the summertime, we have to look at their physical characteristics to tell them apart.

The flowers may be hard to distinguish especially if you don’t have one of each plant to make the comparisons. Probably the easiest way to differentiate the two fleabanes is to look at the alternating stem leaves. Common fleabane leaves clasp the stem.

Ray flowers number more than 100 in this Common Fleabane.
Ray flowers number more than 100 in this Common Fleabane.

Flower buds are often pink, and sometimes the mature flowers retain the pink color instead of turning to white as most of these roadside posies do.

Any of the plants that are mowed down can regenerate to flower again later in the season. Perhaps that’s one reason why we see the fleabanes flowering along many roads in the summertime.

The whole plant of common fleabane has been used in tea to treat a number of illnesses, as Peterson’s Medical Plants Guide indicates astringent and diuretic properties. Sufferers of HHT, Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia, a blood vessel disorder that causes bleeding, may like to know that hemorrhages of the stomach, bowels, bladder, kidneys and nose have been stopped with folk remedies of common fleabane. (Errata: the 1990 version of the Peterson’s Medical Plants Guide lists Erigeron philadelphicus as Daisy Fleabane, not Common Fleabane.)

Perhaps tea of either fleabane would have similar properties for stopping bleeding…can anyone verify this notion?

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