Stems: hirsute-pubescent, slender, simple or branched. Leaves: pubescent, entire, the lower ones spatulate, the upper ones oblong, sessile; involucre hemispheric, its bracts linear, hirsute. Flowers: rays numerous, tubular; pistillate flowers filiform; pappus simple, copious.
A very common species of Fleabane, which has numerous small flowers growing in a cluster at the top of each slender stem, and also a few solitary axillary blossoms lower down. The whole plant is hairy, the lower leaves being spatulate and the upper ones oblong, all with smooth perfect margins.
The Fleabanes differ from the Asters in one very essential particular, namely, that the rays of the former are much narrower and very much more numerous than those of the latter, forming a thick fine fringe round the edge of the flowers. Also the Fleabanes bloom earlier in the season. They are extremely prolific.
Erigeron philadelphicus, or Lavender Fleabane, has a thick, finely cut lavender fringe encircling its yellow disk of tiny tubular florets. The leaves are very clasping and toothed, and the rays often number one hundred and twenty.
Erigeron unifloriis, or Arctic Fleabane, is a tiny dwarf plant, growing from one to six inches high, and found only on the loftiest mountain summits. It has a single slender stem, which is clothed at the base by a small cluster of smooth-margined hairy leaves; a few little narrow leaves also grow higher up. At the top is a solitary purplish flower. The whole plant is very hairy and woolly.
Erigeron lanatus, or Alpine Fleabane, is also a species which grows at great elevations. It has both purple and white flowers, and is covered with a soft, whitish, woolly coating.
Erigeron salsuginosus, or Large Purple Fleabane, is the king of its tribe. It has very large and lovely purple flowers, with big yellow disks and a few small, thick, smooth leaves clinging to its stout downy stems. The rays number from fifty to seventy, and the bracts of the involucre are narrow and spreading. This particular Fleabane is quite unmistakable, for it is much larger and handsomer than any of the other mountain species, and makes the alpine meadows and slopes quite gay during its flowering season, which is in the early autumn.