Blue Fleabane: A Versatile and Beautiful Wildflower
Blue fleabane is a common name for two different species of plants that belong to the daisy family, Asteraceae. Both species are native to North America and have attractive blue or purple flowers that attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. In this article, we will explore the characteristics, habitats and uses of these two blue fleabanes: Erigeron acer and Erigeron linearis.
Erigeron acer, also known as bitter fleabane or blue fleabane, is a biennial or perennial herb that can grow up to 100 cm (40 inches) tall. It has a taproot and a woody rhizome that help it survive in dry and poor soils. The leaves are lance-shaped and toothed, and the stems are hairy and branched. The flower heads are small and consist of a yellow disc surrounded by pink, lilac or white ray florets. The flowers bloom from May to September and produce small seeds that are dispersed by the wind or animals.
Erigeron acer is native to Canada, colder parts of the United States, northern, central and southeastern Asia, and most of Europe. It can be found in a variety of habitats, such as woodlands, meadows, rocky slopes, prairies and roadsides. It prefers sunny or partially shaded locations and well-drained soils. It can tolerate drought, frost and grazing.
Erigeron acer has several uses in traditional medicine, gardening and wildlife conservation. The plant has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and diuretic properties and can be used to treat wounds, ulcers, kidney stones, rheumatism and gout. The flowers can be used to make a blue dye or a tea that can ease menstrual cramps. The plant can also be grown as an ornamental in borders, rock gardens or containers, where it adds color and texture. It can also be used as a ground cover or a filler plant in dry or barren areas. Moreover, the plant provides food and shelter for many insects, birds and small mammals that feed on its nectar, pollen, seeds or leaves.
Erigeron linearis, also known as blue fleabane or desert yellow fleabane, is a perennial herb that can grow up to 1 m (3 feet) tall. It has long narrow leaves that are mostly basal and hairy stems that are often reddish. The flower heads are larger than those of Erigeron acer and have white or blue ray florets and yellow disc florets. The flowers bloom from June to August and produce fluffy seeds that are carried by the wind.
Erigeron linearis is native to western North America, from British Columbia to California and eastward to Montana and New Mexico. It can be found in dry rocky or sandy habitats, from sagebrush steppe to alpine tundra. It thrives in full sun and well-drained soils. It can withstand drought, cold and fire.
Erigeron linearis has similar uses as Erigeron acer in medicine, gardening and wildlife conservation. The plant has antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to treat skin infections, burns, wounds and sore throats. The flowers can be used to make a yellow dye or a tea that can relieve headaches and stomachaches. The plant can also be grown as an ornamental in rock gardens, xeriscapes or native plant gardens, where it adds color and contrast. It can also be used as a ground cover or an erosion control plant in dry or disturbed areas. Furthermore, the plant attracts many pollinators and seed-eaters that benefit from its nectar, pollen or seeds.
Blue fleabane is a common name for two different species of plants that belong to the daisy family: Erigeron acer