This prolific wildflower is both widespread and long-lasting. It can be seen in fields and along roadsides; it blooms from mid-spring to late summer. As a matter of fact, it can be hard to get away from- you’ll even run into it occasionally along paths in the woods. If you live in Ohio, you’ve seen it if you’ve glanced along the roadside as you drive along.
Although this flower usually has thin white rays surrounding a yellow center- much like a miniature daisy with multiple blooms- you’ll see the occasional pink or lavender-rayed plant as well. The leaves tend to be narrow and modest in size, and the stem is often hairy. It’s easy to mistake this plant for asters- though since asters are an autumn plant, it’s relatively easy to narrow the identification down when seeing them earlier in the year.
This is Fleabane, a member of the Aster family (not surprising, since it looks quite a bit like asters). It gets its name from the old belief that this plant repelled fleas when crushed or burned indoors. It was also used to repel insects in general, for instance by stuffing the dried plants in mattresses. As a herbal remedy, it was once used as a treatment for dysentery and other ailments, and can also be found in gardens as a cultivated plant- it’s not difficult to see why. A rather versatile flower!
There are many different species of this particular plant, but in Ohio 2 of the most common are Philadelphia Fleabane and Daisy Fleabane. The differences between the species are rather subtle, and worth pursuing if you wish to study them. But you don’t have to bother to enjoy the spring appearance of these numerous white and yellow flowers. They will still be around in the summer as well to enjoy.