PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Showy Fleabane (Erigeron speciosus)

This lovely, intrepid, durable, and adaptable plant carries a heavy load of undeserved cultural baggage. A search of the interwebs returns scads of results explaining the Grecian etymology. ‘Eri’ means early, referring, it is said, to the blooming time. Erigeron starts blooming in late spring. Nothing special or accurate there. “Geron’ means old or old man, supposedly a reference to part of the flower being hairy like an old man. Please. The flower is not especially hairy and old men are not necessarily hairy. The common name ‘Fleabane’ refers to the smelly flower’s ability to repel fleas. Nope. The flower doesn’t smell like anything at all and there is no evidence, anecdotal or scientific, that the plant repels anything. Someone just made this part up and it stuck.

What Erigeron does is attract local winged pollinators, bloom for many months from spring through autumn, and provide a delightful sparkle of color in any garden or landscape. It can be happy growing in a pampered garden or in cracked concrete. It likes sun, but will put up with just a couple of hours of it too.

As a Pacific Northwest native wildflower, it can be found in the Columbia Gorge, on mountainside meadows, at the edges of lowland woods, and along roadsides. It grows as a 1-2 foot mound of narrow light green foliage blanketed in masses of lavender to whitish 1 1/2 inch daisies with yellow centers. It blooms from June to October.