COMPOSITE FAMILY - Compositae: Daisy Fleabane; Sweet Scabious
Flower-heads--Numerous, daisy-like, about 1/2 in. across; from 40 to 70 long, fine, white rays (or purple or pink tinged), arranged around yellow disk florets in a rough, hemispheric cup whose bracts overlap. Stem: Erect, 1 to 4 ft. high, branching above, with spreading, rough hairs. Leaves: Thin, lower ones ovate, coarsely toothed, petioled; upper ones sessile, becoming smaller, lance-shaped.
Preferred Habitat--Fields, waste land, roadsides.
Distribution--Nova Scotia to Virginia, westward to Missouri.
At a glance one knows this flower to be akin to Robin's plantain, the asters and daisy. A smaller, more delicate species, with mostly entire leaves and appressed hairs (E. ramosus)--E. strigosum of Gray--has a similar range and season of bloom. Both soon grow hoary-headed after they have been fertilized by countless insects crawling over them (Erigeron = early old). That either of these plants, or the pinkish, small-flowered, strong-scented Salt-marsh Fleabane (Pluchea camphorata), drive away fleas, is believed only by those who have not used them dried, reduced to powder, and sprinkled in kennels, from which, however, they have been known to drive away dogs.