Native Plant Highlights

What’s in Bloom | Philadelphia Fleabane

May 18, 2020

Philadelphia Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus)

Philadelphia fleabane can be spotted blooming throughout spring along roadsides, clearings, fields and meadows throughout a good portion of the United States. In some parts of Virginia it blooms as early as March. A member of the Aster family, this fleabane is native to Virginia along with a few other fleabanes in the Erigeron genus. Worldwide there are about 150 species in the genus, but only a handful are found in Virginia.

Philadelphia fleabane has several characteristics that help us distinguish it from other fleabanes likes daisy and annual fleabane. Most notable is that this species has leaves that clasp the stem and its fine threadlike ray flowers are finer and more numerous than the others. 

Nodding buds open into central yellow disk flowers surrounded by white to rich pink ray flowers. Flowering heads are often more numerous per stalk than other fleabanes.

According to Flora of Virginia, this species is more common in the mountains region of Virginia that infrequent in the Piedmont and coastal plain.

Benefits to Biodiversity | Filling in some of the neglected spaces like roadsides and clearings, Philadelphia fleabane may not get much of our attention. But when we start to observe closely we can see that it has many frequent visitors of all kinds. We observed several types of beetles, sweat bees, syrphid flies and flies visiting the blooms on one visit alone in early May. This fleabane is also a larval host for a rare and possibly threatened butterfly, the Northern Metalmark. Learn more about it here.

Biodiversity

Flowers

Leaves & Plant Structure

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