Flora and fauna of the Athens County area, and occasionally habitats outside Ohio. Subject matter will consist of both interpretive material and taxonomic issues in plant and animal identification.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Fleabanes are part of the Asteraceae family. Their rays are very narrow compared to such relatives as Ox-eye Daisy, Coneflowers, or Sunflowers. Many consider them weedy. There are four common species in our area. This one above is Robin's Plantain, Erigeron pulchellus. The flower heads are larger than our other fleabanes, often over an inch wide. Many guides will say you can tell them all apart by measuring the length of the rays compared to the flower center. You could also count the rays. Well I don't want to spend time seeing if they have 100 rays or less. Separate the fleabanes by looking at the leaves.
Robin's Plantain has a set of very broad basal leaves. They will persist even when the flowers disappear. All parts of the plant tend to be hairier than the other fleabanes. It's usually found in richer soils in less disturbed habitats. It blooms spring to early summer. The other species can be found throughout the summer.

Fleabanes most often bloom white, but there may be a ting of pink in the flowers as well. This one is Common Fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus. The flower heads are smaller than Robin's Plantain.

Common Fleabane is found on woods edges and especially in disturbed open areas. Look to the leaves. They attach by clasping around the stem.

Another frequent species of open fields is the Daisy Fleabane, Erigeron annuus.  Their flower heads are similar in size to Common Fleabane.

The lower leaves are broader, becoming more narrow as you go up the plant. The lower stems have white hairs that protrude outward. The petioles are somewhat winged. Regardless where you look on the plant, the leaves do not clasp the stem.

The species with the smallest flowers is Lesser Daisy Fleabane, Erigeron strigosus. It's often called Narrow-leaved Fleabane. I find this in dry open sites or prairie edges.

Looking like an anorexic Daisy Fleabane, the leaves are very narrow or skinny throughout the plant. The leaf margins are rarely toothed, and the stem hairs do not stick out.  Just the common name "Daisy Fleabane" is often used for this and the previous species.

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