Erigeron philadelphicus

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: common fleabane
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 2 to 7
Height: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: White rays with yellow center
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Good drainage is important for this plant. Tolerates some light shade, particularly in hot summer climates. Plants may freely self-seed in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Erigeron philadelphicus is an aster-like biennial or short-lived perennial that is native throughout the U.S. and much of Canada. In Missouri, it is typically found in fields, open woods, moist banks, meadows, valleys, waste ground and along roads and railroad tracks (Steyermark). Although noted for being somewhat weedy, this fleabane produces a profuse and showy mid-spring to early summer bloom of daisy-like flowers that are attractive in the landscape. Each flowerhead (to 1" diameter) has 100-150 thread-like densely-packed pale pink to white rays with side by side bracts (not overlapping) and a yellow center disk. Plants typically grow to as much as 30" tall on a single downy stem that branches in the upper half. Spatula-shaped basal leaves and lower stem leaves (2-6" long) are stalked, toothed and often lobed. Leaves become smaller and fewer in number going up the stem, with the upper stem leaves being stalkless, untoothed and clasping. This fleabane is similar in appearance to asters except asters usually bloom later in the season with have bracts that overlap like shingles. Tea brewed from this species has been used in the past as a diuretic and an astringent.

Genus name comes from the Greek words eri meaning early and geron meaning old man in reference to the early bloom time and downy plant appearance suggestive of the white beard of an old man.

Specific epithet means of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The fleabane name reportedly comes from a once widely held theory that this plant repels fleas.

Problems

Some susceptibility to powdery mildew, leaf spots and rust. Erigeron does not always thrive in hot and humid summer climates such as found in the St. Louis area.

Garden Uses

Cottage gardens, butterfly gardens, native plant/wildflower gardens, meadows or naturalized areas. May be used in borders and rock gardens.