Daisy Fleabane, Sweet Scabious – Flowers

(Erigeron annus) Thistle family

Flower-heads—Numerous, daisy-like, about 12 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. Flowering Season—May—November.

Distribution—Nova Scotia to Virginia, westward to Missouri.

At a glance one knows this flower to be akin to Robin’s plantain (p. 75), 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 camphorate), 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.