- Family Asteraceae (formerly Compositae)
- Erigeron species
- E. canadensis syn. Conyza canadensis
- E. philaelphicus
- E. annuus
- E. pumilus
- E. divergens
- E. peregrinus subsp. callianthemus
- Coltstail, Flea Wort, Horseweed, Prideweed, Daisy Fleabane, Philadelphia Fleabane, Sweet Scabious, Frostweed, Fieldweed, Mourning Widow
- None listed.
Native to North America, the herb is now common in South America and Europe. It is an erect annual, or sometimes biennial, growing to three feet with tiny, narrow, dark green, lance-shaped leaves and clusters of small, white flower heads that quickly fade into silky white tufts. It thrives in uncultivated soil and recently cleared land, often invading in large swathes. It is gathered from the wild when in flower.
The genus name >I>Erigeron comes from he Greek “eri” (early) and “geron” (old man), referring to the grayed and hairy fluff (pappus) attached to the top of the seeds. This becomes conspicuous soon after the flowers fade.
Native American tribes, including the Mesquakies, powered the flowers to make a snuff that, when sniffed, caused sneezing that would break up a head cold or catarrh. The Lakotas made a tea from the entire plant to treat children with sore mouths and adults who had difficulty urinating. Other uses included teas for rheumatism, lameness, and stomach disorders. The blossoms were also mixed with brains, gall, and spleen of a buffalo, and then rubbed on the hide to bleach it in the tanning process. The Navajo used fleabane in lotions for body pain and headaches. The Cheyenne used the whole plant in boiling water to inhale the vapours. It was also boiled to make steam for sweat lodges and burned to create a smoke that warded off insects. It was also used to clear intestinal parasites and, hence, the common name.
- volatile oil (including limonene, terpineol, linalool)
- plant acids
- Aerial parts
Its astringent action makes it a good remedy for diarrhea and dysentery and effective in treating bleeding hemorrhoids.
The herb is commonly used to clear toxins in rheumatic conditions and to treat gonorrhea and other urinogenital diseases.
A related species, the Philadelphia fleabane (E. philadelphicus), was used by the Houma as a treatment for menstrual problems. A Mexican relative,E. affinis, is used to make a tooth powder and to treat toothache.