Common Fleabane – Erigeron Philadelphicus: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Early Old Man of Wild Plants

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These edible and medicinal fleabane are smaller daisies, that bloom earliest of daisies here, and they are quickly raggedly looking. From all that you can probably figure out why they’re called eri (early) and geron (old man) in greek.

Common Fleabane – Erigeron Philadelphicus
Common Fleabane – Erigeron Philadelphicus

Around Haliburton, we have common fleabane, rough daisy (erigeron strigosus) – more likely found at rocky sites, daisy fleabane (erigeron annuus), and more erigeron. The aforementioned look much alike. Philadelphicus has clasping leaves to set it apart. And I think it carries that “old man” look best.

Speaking of daisies, there’s also ox-eye daisy before the end of the year, which is probably what most people picture when they think daisy! (He loves me, he loves me not…) And another fleabane we featured separately is horseweed!

Edible Uses of Common Fleabane

The young plant of both common and daisy fleabane can be boiled and eaten. Funny how all the top results on the Internet say only the leaves can be eaten, but they’re also copy/pastes of each other, so no wonder. Older leaves especially have a fuzz most won’t find pleasant, and the amount of fuzz varies. I’ll repeat this a few times in this post: do not ingest if pregnant or trying to conceive.

Medicinal Uses of Common Fleabane

Common fleabane is primarily said to support these body systems:

  • Digestive
  • Integumentary
  • Reproductive

Medicinal tags include Astringent, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, and Emmenagogue. See Medicinal tag key for more information.

Common usage includes tea brewed from the roots to help stimulate and normalize menstrual flow. Hence do not ingest if pregnant or trying to conceive. However, it’s no where near the most effective herbal medicine for this. Here’s a list to check out if you’re interested.

Also, we have the typical astringent uses of the leaves and flowers (e.g. poultices for sores, diarrhea) and diuretic (e.g. for kidney stones).

Its more popular relation horseweed (erigeron canadensis) is used to make the antimicrobial “Oil of Erigeron” which is like a gentler “Oil of Turpentine” substitute.. Horseweed will be covered later. But as horseweed is often called fleabane or Canadian fleabane – possibly confusing – take note! Horseweed is taller and lacks the quaint pinkish flowers.

Alternative Uses of Robin’s Plantain

It’s a pretty addition to your bee and butterfly garden! It’s also frequented by many moths, grasshoppers and other insects.

Growing Erigeron Philadelphicus

It’s best sown in disturbed sites, moist but with good drainage. Around Haliburton, it will likely start popping up around your yard on its own, if you don’t mow it down. Any given year I usually have half a dozen scattered throughout the meadow half of the one acre wood.

For some reason, maybe it’s because a “pest” is in the name, you might think this plant is introduced. But fleabanes and horseweed are actually native to Ontario and wonderful for pollinators. It could easily become a favorite wildflower for those who like a shabby-chic look.


Do not ingest if pregnant or trying to conceive.

It can cause contact dermatitis on sensitive skin.

And the Usual Cautions:

1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation.

2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk.

3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored.

4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.

5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.

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Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada

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4 thoughts on “Common Fleabane – Erigeron Philadelphicus: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Early Old Man of Wild Plants”

  1. Thanks for writing these Rachel. It’s always great to have you, someone who is passionate and really feels for what is going on with the flowers and biology they are interested in. It’s truly a blessing because you write from experience and from the heart. Stay blessed dear sister! 🌎❤️✨

    • They are easy enough to pull, but they also support about a dozen beneficial insects and the birds and other wildlife that eat those insects, so why would you?


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