P80513Erigeron karvinskianus

Is it really supposed to be the bane of fleas? If so, why? I learned it as Santa Barbara daisy. Is it native there, or was a particular variety of it named for Santa Barbara? Is it a weed? Is it native? Is it a native of somewhere else in California that merely naturalized here? There are so many questions about this simple little flower that is growing wild under a cyclone fence at the backside of a motorcourt at work.

Whether it really is native or not, or whether it is a straight species or a selected variety of one, fleabane happens to do well in drought tolerant landscapes composed of native plants. It naturally spreads out to form shallow but wide mounds. If it gets cut back in its off season, it comes right back. Although it dies after only a few years, lower stems typically form roots and grow into new plants before the original one dies, essentially replacing itself before anyone notices.

If it is a weed, it is polite about it. Stray plants that appear where they are not wanted are easy to get rid of, and do not regenerate too aggressively to be managed. Those that happen to appear in out of the way situation can be left to bloom without much concern of profuse seed dispersion. Weed or not, it is preferred to other nastier weeds that it might prevent from growing simply by occupying the space.

It happens to grow in my planter box downtown. ( https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/my-tiny-downtown-garden/ https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/six-on-saturday-my-downtown-planter-box-again-and-up-close-this-time/ ) I certainly did not plant it. It was there long before my time, and remain, even if merely in a minor degree, just in case the person who planted it years ago ever stops by to check in on it.


17 thoughts on “Fleabane

  1. I have a couple of clumps of this in the garden. I put it in last year when the border was new to fill some gaps and it did just that and flowered all through the summer! It’s not easy to split (it kind of falls apart) but I split one lump this year and managed to grow two pieces on – albeit slightly tatty looking! It’s very forgiving!

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    1. I would not recommend splitting it, but would instead recommend pulling off small clumps of rooted stems and burring them slighter deeper than they were, even if only a few leafy twigs are visible above the surface. One the roots take hold, the stems will grow like weeds. There is no point in plugging big pieces, since they will make all new stem grown anyway, and abandon the old stems.

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  2. I do love this little plant, yours look more white than the ones I see in the UK and I grow in my garden. Mine are more tinged with pink. A really sweet little flower and lovely when cascading across an old stone wall.

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    1. They typically are more pinkish. Newly opened flowers start out pinkish, and then fade to white. They stay pink longer on the coast or when the weather is damp. These happen to be in a warm and dry spot. The area in front of them is all paved with asphalt. As much as I prefer white, I think that these look better with a bit more pink than white. Their flavor of white isnot all that impressive.


  3. Well in the UK and here in France they are sold as rockery plants…I remember when they first appeared way back in the 1980’s I think….could be before that!…my mother bought some claiming it was this exciting new Erigeron she had found…it really loved her driveway and spread everywhere. I now have it all over the gravel at the front of our house, and have intentionally put some in my new rockery, filling little gaps…it is such a cheerful plant and flowers its heart out all summer long until the frosts. Makes a great Flower Essence too!! I have never heard it called a Flea Bane before…as I always thought of them as water loving, yellow….and in the Aster family. But now I look it up…Erigeron is also in the same family…thanks for pointing that out Tony!

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    1. Oh, I should have mentioned that there are other ‘original’ fleabanes. It did not occur to me. I have seen only one other fleabane, and it was years ago. It seems odd that anyone would actually purchase this stuff. If I wanted more, I would just grab it off the side of the road. What is a rockery?


  4. We have a Flea Bane that is native to the Midwest – Erigeron pulchellus. The species name means “beautiful”, so maybe the common name should be Beautiful Flea Bane, as perhaps it is the bane of beautiful fleas. But actually the common name is Robin’s Plantain, which doesn’t make sense either. I think that the Flea Bane name needs some rethinking – best to leave fleas out of it altogether.

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  5. Pretty sure most people around here would just call it a weed! It self seeds to readily I find it almost everywhere the soil is disturbed. But like you say, with its shallow roots it’s quite easy to pull out where you don’t want it.

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  6. Reblogged this on Tony Tomeo and commented:

    Since this recycled article posted three years ago, the fleabane has been removed from my planter box downtown because it was just a bit too aggressive there. It climbed over the succulents and looked sloppy through summer. At work, it still acorns stone walls where nothing else survives.


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