General: Sunflower or composite family (Asteraceae; Compositae). Philadelphia fleabane is a native, biennial or short-lived, somewhat weedy, perennial herb. The hemispherical, aster-like flowers (1.5 –2.5cm diameter), which bloom in the spring, have yellow centers of tubular disk flowers (2.5-3cm long), surrounded by from 100-150 narrow, white to pinkish-purple rays (5-10mm long). The flowers grow on branches atop a 30 to 90cm-tall leafless, usually single, stem that grows out of a sparse rosette of basal leaves (4-16cm long). Each branch can bear from a few to several flowers or drooping closed buds. The opened flowers close at night. The basal leaves are ovate (widest near the base) with toothed margins. Another group of smaller, lanceolate leaves surround and clasp the stem near the base. The leaves and stems can be sparsely pubescent to quite hairy. The genus name, Erigeron stems from the Greek eri, "early" and geron "old man," probably because of the
plant’s hairy appearance. The common name “fleabane” is from Old English and it refers to the plant’s odor, which supposedly can repel fleas.
Similar species: Erigeron pulchellus has fewer ray flowers (40-60). E. quercifolius is shorter with violet or blue flowers. E. strigosus is an annual from 30-90cm tall, which lacks the clasping leaves surrounding the stem. Low Erigeron (E. pumilis Nutt.) is from 5-30cm tall and can have white, pink, or bluish rays.
Distribution: For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Habitat: Philadelphia fleabane grows in moist to very wet conditions. Plants grow in wet meadows and grassy openings, flood plains, lowland woodlands, thickets, fields, stream banks, low pastures, wet roadsides and seepage areas. The size of the plant varies with habitat.
Daisy fleabane, common fleabane, marsh, fleabane, frost-root, skervish, poor robin’s plantain
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Localities documented in Tropicos sources
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- SPECIMEN BASED RECORD. Published protolog data. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/9990002
- Anonymous. 1986. List-Based Rec., Soil Conserv. Serv., U.S.D.A. Database of the U.S.D.A., Beltsville. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1103
- Gleason, H. A. 1968. The Sympetalous Dicotyledoneae. vol. 3. 596 pp. In H. A. Gleason Ill. Fl. N. U.S. (ed. 3). New York Botanical Garden, New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1707
- Radford, A. E., H. E. Ahles & C. R. Bell. 1968. Man. Vasc. Fl. Carolinas i–lxi, 1–1183. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/636
- Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston. 1970. Man. Vasc. Pl. Texas i–xv, 1–1881. The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1493
- Small, J. K. 1933. Man. S.E. Fl. i–xxii, 1–1554. Published by the Author, New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1515
- Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Fl. Great Plains i–vii, 1–1392. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/637
- Munz, P. A. & D. D. Keck. 1959. Cal. Fl. 1–1681. University of California Press, Berkeley. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1717
- Munz, P. A. 1974. Fl. S. Calif. 1–1086. University of California Press, Berkeley. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1719
- Godfrey, R. K. & J. W. Wooten. 1981. Aquatic Wetland Pl. S.E. U.S. Dicot. 933 pp. Univ. Georgia Press, Athens. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1711
- Cronquist, A. J. 1980. Asteraceae. 1: i–xv, 1–261. In Vasc. Fl. S.E. U. S. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1714
Range and Habitat in Illinois
The plant will grow in a variety of soils. However, it requires soils that are moist and moderately well drained. It grows best in full sun but will tolerate dappled shade.
Seeds: Wildflower seeds should be sown directly into beds or scattered in the garden during early spring. The seeds should germinate in about four weeks.
Flower-Visiting Insects of Philadelphia Fleabane in Illinois
(Also called Marsh Fleabane; bees collect pollen or suck nectar; flies and beetles feed on pollen or suck nectar; other insects suck nectar; some observations are from Robertson, otherwise they are from Graenicher, Petersen, Moure & Hurd, LaBerge, Krombein et al., and Fothergill & Vaughn as indicated below)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus fervidus (Pt), Bombus griseocallis sn; Anthophoridae (Anthophorinae): Exomalopsis asteris (Pt); Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina calcarata sn fq, Ceratina dupla dupla sn cp fq (Rb, Gr); Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Svastra obliqua obliqua (LB); Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada articulata sn fq (Rb, Gr), Nomada cressonii sn, Nomada denticulata sn (Gr), Nomada rhodoxantha sn (Gr), Nomada sayi sn (Gr), Nomada superba superba sn; Megachilidae (Coelioxini): Coelioxys moesta sn (Gr); Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis sn, Megachile centuncularis sn cp (Gr); Megachilidae (Osmiini): Hoplitis pilosifrons sn (Rb, Gr), Osmia atriventris sn cp (Gr), Osmia distincta sn (Gr), Osmia georgica sn cp; Megachilidae (Stelidini): Stelis lateralis sn fq (Rb, Gr), Stelis sexmaculata sn (Gr), Stelis subemarginata sn (Gr); Megachilidae (Trypetini): Heriades leavitti sn, Heriades variolosa variolosa (Kr)
Halictidae (Dufoureinae): Dufourea marginatus (Pt); Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon virescens sn cp (Rb, Gr), Augochlorella aurata sn cp, Augochlorella striata sn cp (Rb, Gr), Halictus confusus sn cp fq, Halictus ligatus sn cp fq (Rb, Gr, Pt), Halictus rubicunda (MH), Halictus sp. (Lasioglossum sp.) sn (Gr), Lasioglossum albipennis sn, Lasioglossum anomalis (Pt), Lasioglossum connexus (MH), Lasioglossum coriaceus sn cp (Rb, Gr), Lasioglossum cressonii sn cp (Gr), Lasioglossum forbesii (MH), Lasioglossum imitatus sn, Lasioglossum pectoralis sn cp fq, Lasioglossum pictus (MH), Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn cp, Lasioglossum tegularis sn cp (Gr), Lasioglossum versatus sn cp fq; Halictidae (Sphecodini): Sphecodes clematidis sn (Gr), Sphecodes cressonii sn, Sphecodes dichroa sn (Gr); Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis sn (Gr), Hylaeus mesillae sn (Rb, Gr), Hylaeus modestus modestus sn cp (Gr); Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena commoda sn cp (Gr), Andrena cressonii sn cp (Gr), Andrena fragilis sn (Gr), Andrena mariae sn, Andrena nigrifrons (Kr), Andrena robertsonii sn (Gr), Andrena spiraeana (Kr); Andrenidae (Panurginae): Calliopsis andreniformis sn (Gr)
Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila kennedyi (Rb, Gr), Isodontia philadelphica (Gr); Vespidae: Vespula germanica (Gr); Vespidae (Eumeninae): Ancistrocerus adiabatus (Gr), Ancistrocerus antilope (Gr), Ancistrocerus catskill (Gr), Euodynerus foraminatus, Stenodynerus ammonia fq, Stenodynerus anormis fq, Stenodynerus oculeus
Syrphidae: Epistrophe emarginata (Gr), Eristalis transversus (Gr), Eupeodes americanus (Gr), Paragus bicolor, Paragus tibialis (Rb, Gr), Rhingia nasica (Gr), Sphaerophoria contiqua (Gr), Syritta pipiens (Gr), Syrphus ribesii (Gr), Toxomerus geminatus (Gr), Toxomerus marginatus (Gr); Bombyliidae: Aldrichia ehrmanii fp fq (Rb, Gr); Stratiomyidae: Nemotelus nigrinus (Gr), Odontomyia virgo (Gr); Conopidae: Thecophora occidensis, Zodion fulvifrons (Rb, Gr) fq; Tachinidae: Clausicella floridensis, Copecrypta ruficauda (Gr), Cylindromyia carolinae (Gr), Epigrimyia polita (Gr), Gymnoclytia immaculata (Rb, Gr), Gymnoclytia occidua fq, Leucostoma simplex, Periscepsia laevigata, Phasia purpurascens, Siphona geniculata; Calliphoridae: Calliphora vicina (Gr), Lucilia illustris (Gr); Sarcophagidae: Helicobia rapax (Rb, Gr), Ravinia anxia, Sarcophaga sinuata, Sphixapata trilineata (Gr); Muscidae: Hydrotaea sp. (Gr), Neomyia cornicina; Anthomyiidae: Calythea nigricans, Delia platura; Sciaridae: Sciara exigua (Gr)
Papilionidae: Eurytides marcellus (FV); Nymphalidae: Limenitis archippus (FV), Phyciodes tharos (Rb, FV); Lycaenidae: Calycopis cecrops (FV), Lycaena hyllus, Strymon melinus (FV); Pieridae: Eurema nicippe
Hesperiidae: Ancyloxypha numitor, Polites mystic (Gr), Polites peckius (Rb, Gr), Polites themistocles (Rb, Gr)
Geometridae: Lomographa vestaliata (Gr); Sesiidae: Cisseps fulvicollis
Cantharidae: Rhagonycha dichrous fp np; Cerambycidae: Brachysomida bivittata (Gr); Chrysomelidae: Cryptocephalus quadruplex (Gr), Diabrotica undecimpunctata fp np; Cleridae: Trichodes apivorus (Gr); Mordellidae: Mordellistena comata (Gr); Scarabaeidae (Cetonniae): Trichiotinus piger fp np (Rb, Gr)
Miridae: Adelphocoris rapidus (Rb, Gr), Lygus lineolaris (Rb, Gr), Metriorrhynchomiris dislocatus (Gr), Plagiognathus sp. (Gr); Rhopalidae: Arhyssus lateralis
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Erigeron philadelphicus
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Erigeron philadelphicus
Public Records: 9
Specimens with Barcodes: 13
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
These plant materials are somewhat available from commercial sources. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”
Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely.
Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.
Philadelphia fleabane is a native wildflower that occurs over much of the United States and will often self sow if growing under favorable conditions. However, this plant is listed as an invasive weed, so be sure to determine if it can be a problem in your area before planting.
This plant may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace desirable vegetation if not properly managed. Please consult with your local NRCS Field Office, Cooperative Extension Service office, or state natural resource or agriculture department regarding its status and use. Weed information is also available from the PLANTS Web site at plants.usda.gov.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Ethnobotanic: The Cherokee and other Native American tribes used Philadelphia fleabane for a variety of medicinal purposes including epilepsy. A poultice was made from the plant to treat headaches. The roots were either made into tea or chewed to treat colds and coughs. The smoke from incense made from the plant was inhaled to treat head colds. A snuff was made and sniffed also for head colds. It was mixed with other herbs to also treat headaches and inflammation of the nose and throat. The tea was used to break fevers. The plant was boiled and mixed with tallow to make a balm that could be spread upon sores on the skin. It was used for as an eye medicine to treat “dimness of sight.” It was used as an astringent, a diuretic, and as an aid for kidneys or the gout. The Cherokee and Houma tribes boiled the roots to make a drink for “menstruation troubles” and to induce miscarriages (to treat “suppressed menstruation”). It was also used to treat hemorrhages and for spitting of blood. The Catawba used a drink from the plant to treat heart trouble.
Livestock: Cows graze this plant for forage.
Wildlife: Deer use this plant for food. Butterflies, bees and moths pollinate the flowers.
Erigeron philadelphicus is a herbaceous plant with alternate, simple leaves, on hairy stems. The flowers are pink-rayed, yellow centered, borne in spring. The number of closely packed petals ranges from 50 to 100 per flower. The blooms are less than one inch in diameter. The stem is hairy with rough hairs. The middle to lower leaves are heart shaped, and the plant is about 0.5–2.5 ft (15–76 cm) tall. Its active growth period is from spring to summer (April to July). This plant can be found throughout North America along roadsides, in fields, in thickets, and in open woods.
- Erigeron philadelphicus. USDA NRCS Plant Guide.
- Dickinson, T.; Metsger, G.; Hull, J.; and Dickinson, R. (2004) The ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario. Toronto:Royal Ontario Museum, p. 163.
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