Philadelphia Fleabane (Philadelphicus)

The Philadelphia Fleabane (Philadelphicus) is generally described as a perennial forb/herb. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The Philadelphia Fleabane (Philadelphicus) has green foliage and inconspicuous white flowers, with an abuncance of conspicuous brown fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the mid spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the spring and continuing until summer. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Philadelphia Fleabane (Philadelphicus) has a short life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Philadelphia Fleabane (Philadelphicus) will reach up to 2.8 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Philadelphia Fleabane (Philadelphicus) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have medium vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -28°F. has low tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Ethnobotanic: The Cherokee and other Native American tribes used Philadelphia fleabane for a variety of medicinal purposes including epilepsy. A poultice was made from the plant to treat headaches. The roots were either made into tea or chewed to treat colds and coughs. The smoke from incense made from the plant was inhaled to treat head colds. A snuff was made and sniffed also for head colds. It was mixed with other herbs to also treat headaches and inflammation of the nose and throat. The tea was used to break fevers. The plant was boiled and mixed with tallow to make a balm that could be spread upon sores on the skin. It was used for as an eye medicine to treat “dimness of sight.” It was used as an astringent, a diuretic, and as an aid for kidneys or the gout. The Cherokee and Houma tribes boiled the roots to make a drink for “menstruation troubles” and to induce miscarriages (to treat “suppressed menstruation”). It was also used to treat hemorrhages and for spitting of blood. The Catawba used a drink from the plant to treat heart trouble.

Livestock: Cows graze this plant for forage.

Wildlife: Deer use this plant for food. Butterflies, bees and moths pollinate the flowers.

General Characteristics

General: Sunflower or composite family (Asteraceae; Compositae). Philadelphia fleabane is a native, biennial or short-lived, somewhat weedy, perennial herb. The hemispherical, aster-like flowers (1.5 –2.5cm diameter), which bloom in the spring, have yellow centers of tubular disk flowers (2.5-3cm long), surrounded by from 100-150 narrow, white to pinkish-purple rays (5-10mm long). The flowers grow on branches atop a 30 to 90cm-tall leafless, usually single, stem that grows out of a sparse rosette of basal leaves (4-16cm long). Each branch can bear from a few to several flowers or drooping closed buds. The opened flowers close at night. The basal leaves are ovate (widest near the base) with toothed margins. Another group of smaller, lanceolate leaves surround and clasp the stem near the base. The leaves and stems can be sparsely pubescent to quite hairy. The genus name, Erigeron stems from the Greek eri, early and geron old man, probably because of the plant’s hairy appearance. The common name “fleabane” is from Old English and it refers to the plant’s odor, which supposedly can repel fleas. Similar species: Erigeron pulchellus has fewer ray flowers (40-60). E. quercifolius is shorter with violet or blue flowers. E. strigosus is an annual from 30-90cm tall, which lacks the clasping leaves surrounding the stem. Low Erigeron (E. pumilis Nutt.) is from 5-30cm tall and can have white, pink, or bluish rays.

Required Growing Conditions

For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Habitat: Philadelphia fleabane grows in moist to very wet conditions. Plants grow in wet meadows and grassy openings, flood plains, lowland woodlands, thickets, fields, stream banks, low pastures, wet roadsides and seepage areas. The size of the plant varies with habitat.

Cultivation and Care

The plant will grow in a variety of soils. However, it requires soils that are moist and moderately well drained. It grows best in full sun but will tolerate dappled shade.

Seeds: Wildflower seeds should be sown directly into beds or scattered in the garden during early spring. The seeds should germinate in about four weeks.


Weediness This plant may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace desirable vegetation if not properly managed.

General Upkeep and Control

Philadelphia fleabane is a native wildflower that occurs over much of the United States and will often self sow if growing under favorable conditions. However this plant is listed as an invasive weed, so be sure to determine if it can be a problem in your area before planting.

Control Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely.

Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Forb/herb
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Biennial, Perennial
Lifespan Short
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Mid Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Stoloniferous
Drought Tolerance Low
Shade Tolerance Intermediate
Height When Mature 2.8
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color White
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Spring Summer
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -28
Soil Depth for Roots 10
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Slow
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 4.8–7.8 pH
Precipitation Range 18–18 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 10
Minimum Frost-Free Days 110 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA