- Slideshow of Fleabane in the Bitterroot
- Indian Blanketflower in Montana
Outdoor recreation in the Bitterroot – here are some great ideas
Erigeron is a genus of nearly 400 species of flowering plants in the sunflower family (Asteraceae). The genus has a wide distribution with the highest species diversity in North America, where more than 173 species occur. Over 40 species are listed on the Montana Field Guide under Asteraceae . The photos for this article closely resemble Montana field guide photos of the Cutleaf Fleabane (Erigeron compositus) but in the listing the data is incomplete. These photos were taken in the Bitterroot Mountains west of Victor on sunny, dry ridges south of Sweathouse Creek. See a US distribution map at Plants.usda.gov
About Fleabane: it is one of the most widely used common names for Erigeron and is often shared with related plants in several other genera; another common name is summer starwort. The common name came from the belief that the dried plants repelled fleas and the name erigeron comes from the Greek (“eri” meaning early; and “geron” meaning old man), because of the white hairs of the fruit that develop soon after flowering.
Erigerons are annuals, biennials and a few are perennials. These are well-branched plants with erect stems, characterized by their numerous white, lavender or pink ray flowers and yellow disc flowers. Some members of this group have no ray flowers, only the discs. The pappus, which is a modified calyx, forming a crown, is shorter than in Aster and consists of bristles. The ray florets are narrower than in Aster, but are longer than the involucre or whorled bracts.
Erigeron species are used as food plants by the larvae of some moth and butterfly (Lepidoptera) species, a few of which feed exclusively on certain Erigeron.
About Cutleaf Fleabane (Compositus): it is generally described as a perennial herb and is native to the United States. The foliage is green and the inconspicuous flowers have yellow discs with rays of white or shades of pink or purple. The flowers develop into conspicuous brown fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom period is usually late spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the spring and continuing until summer. Leaves are not retained year to year. At maturity, the typical Cutleaf Fleabane will reach up to 1 foot high.
The Cutleaf Fleabane is usually not commercially available. It can be propagated by seed and has a moderate ability to spread through seed production with the seedlings having medium vigor. Cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive temperatures below -33°F. It has high tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.
- more Montana wildflower articles and photos
Two favorite places to view flora and fauna in western Montana:
- Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge
- National Bison Range
Merle’s SmugMug photo site– More wildflower photos in higher resolution
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