Erigeron annuus, whose scientific name accurately indicates it is an annual plant. Erigeron comes from Greek meaning "early" and "old man," which allude to the plant's tendency to blossom in late spring and to form fuzzy white seed heads while still producing new flowers. Daisy fleabane, like other fleabane wildflowers, derives its common name from the superstition that dried clusters of these plants could be used to rid a dwelling of fleas. Although it cannot do that, it is however used as a diuretic and medicine for digestive ailments.
Distinguishing Features: Daisy fleabane is recognizable due to its composite flowers, hairy stems and hairy leaves. It is a pretty, but ubiquitous plant that seems to appear on its own. Although in the Aster family, it is distinguished from asters with similar flowers by its earlier blooming season.
Flowers: The daisy fleabane has composite flowers and is comprised of at least forty rayless flowers. The radially symmetrical flowering structure is characterized by a wide, bright yellow, central disk that is surrounded by short, petal-like, white to white/pink rays. These rays are short compared to the width of the central disk and are supported underneath by green sepals of equal length.
Leaves: This wild edible produces two different types of leaves; lanceolate-to-ovate, basal leaves are long, some measure up to 15 cm. in length and they are covered in hairs. The leaves along the stem are smaller, toothed, clasping, and they too are somewhat hairy.
Height: This plant can grow anywhere between 30 and 150 centimetres in height.
Habitat: Daisy fleabane tends to flourish in fields, along roadsides, and around waste areas. It prefers full sun, dry conditions, and a somewhat alkaline soil containing clay or gravel. However, this plant does adapt to soil containing fertile loam if taller, more aggressive plants do not grow nearby. They grow all across North America and have naturalized in central Europe.
Edible parts: Only the leaves are edible. They are hairy so they have a somewhat ‘furry’ texture making eating them raw not exactly too pleasing. They can be used wherever you cook with greens. Daisy fleabane leaf extracts contain caffeic acid which is an active compound that has antioxidative and neuroprotective effects on neuronal cells.
Similar plants: Erigeron philadelphicus.
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