Erigeron, from er, spring, and geron, an old man; suggested by the abundant pappus of some species.
Perennial. Moist banks and grassy fields, borders of woods. Nova Scotia to Ontario and South Dakota, south to Florida and Louisiana. Abundant in northern Ohio. April-June.
Simple, covered with long, silky hairs, about two feet high, producing runners and offshoots from the base.
Basal leaves obovate or spatulate, in a flat tuft about the root, two to three inches long, an inch wide; stem-leaves distant, oblong-lanceolate, partly clasping.
Radiate-composite, an inch to an inch and a half across, borne in a loose cluster at the summit of the flower-stem; ray-florets a circle of about fifty narrow, pale-pinkish rays; disk-florets greenish yellow; scales of involucre very narrow, hairy.
The Daisy Fleabanes are the Aster-like flowers of spring and early summer. The blossoms look so much like Asters that it may be a matter of some little interest why they are not Asters - as a matter of fact the two are blood-brothers - the difference lies not in essentials but in trifles.
In the first place, the Daisy Fleabanes bloom in spring and early summer, not in autumn; Asters are
Erigeron Philadelphicus among the autumn flowers. Then the rays of the Fleabanes are very narrow and very many, so that they form a thick, pinkish or pale-violet fringe around the central yellow disk of the flower-head. There are also some minor differences in the matter of involucre and pappus.
Robin's Plantain is the earliest Fleabane to bloom at the north; it wears a finely cut, pale pinkish-violet fringe around a flat, yellow disk of minute florets. It is a rather sturdy-looking plant with a hairy stem bearing at the summit not many flower-heads and these rather large, with a tuft of obovate root-leaves and usually equipped for the race of life with offsets and runners.
Upon its heels in middle May, covering great stretches of fields in northern Ohio with a pinkish, misty cloud, comes Erigeron Philadelphicus, the Common Fleabane, a plant three to four feet high, with oblong leaves, the upper clasping by a heart-shaped base, with margins coarsely dentate; the lower spatulate, toothed, and narrowed into short petioles.
The flowers are pale-rose or flesh-colored heads of very many narrow rays surrounding a flat, yellow disk of innumerable, tubular florets. A little later and lasting longer is Erigeron annnus, the Daisy Fleabane, two to four feet high, which is an annual and found about the edges of cultivated fields and lurking in fence corners.
This has many small flower-heads, the rays either white or slightly tinged with purple. Often Robin's Plantain and Common Fleabane possess the fields together, but the Daisy Fleabane possesses them for a longer time. I am told these plants have some forage value, but, beautiful as they are, the meadows are better off without them.