daisy fleabane (Erigeron strigosus)
SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS: There are no scientific synonyms for
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of daisy fleabane
is Erigeron strigosus Muhl. ex Willd. Daisy fleabane resembles Erigeron
annuus (annual fleabane), but robust specimens of these two species are
fairly easy to distinguish. Daisy fleabane is a more slender plant with fewer
and skinnier leaves, and the hairs along the middle and upper portions of
the central stem are short and appressed, rather than spreading outward.
However, some malnourished specimens of annual fleabane can resemble
daisy fleabane, thus becoming a source of possible confusion. In addition,
apparent intermediates between Erigeron annuus and Erigeron strigosus
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: This native annual or biennial plant is erect and up to 3' tall. It is
largely unbranched, except for a few side stems near the inflorescence at
the apex. The ridged central stem has spreading white hairs near the base,
but these hairs become short and appressed along its middle and upper
Leaves: The alternate leaves are up to 4" long and 2/3" across, becoming
smaller and more sparsely distributed as they ascend the stems. They are
usually oblanceolate (shaped like a narrow spoon), narrowly ovate, or lin-
ear. Some of the larger leaves may have a few coarse teeth toward their
outer tips. The base of each leaf narrows gradually to a slender petiole-like
Flowers: The upper stems terminate in small clusters of daisy-like com-
pound flowers and their buds. The buds have appressed fine hairs that are
difficult to see. The compound flowers are about ½" across, consisting of
about 40-100 ray florets that surround numerous disk florets. The tiny disk
florets are yellow, while the ray florets are usually white (sometimes light
violet or pink). However, some plants may bloom later in the year until the
early fall. The flowers may have a mild fragrance.
Fruit/Seeds: Both the ray and disk florets can set fertile seed without cross-pollination. The small achenes enclosing the seeds have small bristles or
white hairs that promote distribution of the seeds by wind.
Roots: The root system consists of a taproot. This plant spreads by re-
seeding itself, and often forms loose colonies.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Daisy fleabane propogates itself by re-
HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include upland areas of black soil prairies,
gravel prairies, hill prairies, limestone glades, dry savannas, eroding clay
banks, pastures and abandoned fields, and areas along roadsides and rail-
roads. While this plant species favors disturbed areas, it is more likely to
occur in higher quality habitats than the closely related Erigeron annuus
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Erigeron strigosus prefers full sun, dry
conditions, and poor soil containing clay or stony material. In moist situa-
tions with richer soil, daisy fleabane may have trouble competing with
taller plants with broader leaves. This plant tends to fade away after flow-
ering and setting seed.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs primarily
from late spring to mid-summer, and lasts about 1-2 months.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Daisy fleabane is found throughout most
of continental United States and Canada, except for the extreme southwest
and the nothern territories of Canada.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: While the fleabanes are often dismissed
as 'weeds' because of their ubiquitousness during the summer, they are
actually rather cheerful plants that are beneficial to many small insects
that play an important role in the functioning of the ecological system.
Primarily small bees and flies visit the flowers for nectar or pollen.
Among the bees, are such visitors as little carpenter bees, Nomadine
bees, carder bees, green metallic bees, and plasterer bees. An excep-
tional variety of flies also visit the flowers, while less common visitors
include small butterflies, wasps, and beetles. The caterpillars of Schinia
lynx (lynx flower moth) eat the buds and flowerheads. Mammalian herb-
ivores occasionally feed on the foliage and flowers, including livestock,
deer, rabbits, and groundhogs.
Crooked Run Valley