Fleabane is a genus of annual plants found in temperate regions. The genus consists of around 40 species within the family Asteraceae. Fleabanes are strongly aromatic herbs and are characterised by their tall flower spikes. Some fleabanes (which we discuss in this post) include Pulicaria dysenterica, which is often called common fleabane or carpet daisy.

What does common fleabane look like?

Common fleabane is a perennial member of the daisy family with downy stems and can grow between 50-90 cm tall.

Some fleabane species have golden yellow flowers, and those in the section Cryptolepis have violet flowers.

The plant’s leaves are made up of fleshy green leaf lobes with serrated edges that may be rounded at the tip or pointed at the end, like a lance-shaped leaf blade with a blunt point. The leaves are shiny green, and the underside of the leaves may be hairy with longitudinal silky fibres.

The flower stalk of most fleabane species is generally erect and may vary from columnar to procumbent depending on the species. The flowers are usually arranged in terminal clusters or disc florets, each flower with disc florets surrounding a yellow flowerhead.

Close-up of common fleabane with a bug

Where and when to see fleabane

The short-lived plant flowers in August and will be gone by September. However, once it appears, they are hard to get rid of.

Some fleabanes are grown in gardens for their aesthetic value and aromatic foliage, but it’s most commonly found all around Europe in permanently damp soil such as banks of streams and marshy areas.

Close-up of common fleabane flowers with selective focus on foreground

Fleabane uses

  • Fleabane has been used in herbal medicine as it is believed to be beneficial for treating skin conditions like psoriasis.
  • Medicinal plants of the genus are known for possessing immunostimulant properties; an extract from green tea fleabane has been found to be effective in modulating various immune responses, including the proliferation of certain white blood cells.
  • As a pollinator, pulicaria dysenterica attracts a variety of pollinating insects such as bees and hoverflies, and some garden butterflies such as the gatekeeper and meadow brown.
  • Due to the carbolic soap and chrysanthemum scent, the plant is sometimes used by homeowners to drive away fleas, hence its name.

Sources and References

  1. Common Fleabane – wildflowerfinder.org.uk
  2. Fleabane (Pulicaria Dysenterica) – plantlife.org.uk

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