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Daisy Fleabane – an Edible and Medicinal Weed

Eastern or Annual Daisy Fleabane – Erigeron annuus, Habitat

That perky white wildflower with a yellow center that looks like daisies or chamomile, might be daisy fleabane.  

An early spring wildflower in North America, you’ll see daisy fleabane, Erigeron annuus, in fields, roadside and drainage ditches. Fleabane grows best in full sun and alkaline clay soil.

We see it on our walks on the roadside of our subdivision. It grows in tall stands of delightful white sprigs of flowers with yellow centers.

Fleabane especially enjoys growing in the lower, more moist sections of the drainage areas. However, in spite of the delicate appearing white flower, fleabane—like most weeds—is a sturdy and determined plant and can also tolerate dryer fields.

A NOTE ON PURPLE – “WILD FLEABANE”

In some areas, daisy fleabane flowers are lavender or purple. These are called wild fleabane, Erigeron purpuratus. We’ve seen only the white flowers with yellow centers in our area of the northeast.

Lovely as this fleabane family member is, we haven’t yet found studies that show whether it is also medicinally beneficial. If you know of such information please send that research so we can include it here. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to study it as we have time to.

Image by bluebudgie from Pixabay

Is Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus) Edible?

Yes, fleabane leaves are edible, though hairy, which is a texture most people aren’t fond of in their foods. But just a few leaves added to mixed salad, or greens steamed or sautéed, can camouflage or get rid of the fuzzies to be more palatable.

Is Fleabane a Beneficial Plant?

Yes! Daisy fleabane leaf extracts contain caffeic acid which is a stimulant and active compound that has protective and antioxidative benefits to cells. In addition, the flowers have been used in native healing traditions, while research has proven healing benefits of fleabane leaves and roots.[1]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6562390/ [2]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3595701/

Daisy Fleabane, Erigeron annuus, growing in a roadside drainage area. Image by GardensAll.com

What Parts of Fleabane (Erigeron annuus) are Used?

  • Leaves – Leaf water or extract is a beneficial antioxidant and improves obesity related diabetes[3]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6562390/
  • Root – Extract of Erigeron annuus root is anti-inflammatory[4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3595701/
  • Flowers – Reduction of mucous

Is Daisy Fleabane Poisonous or Toxic?

Those tiny white wildflowers with yellow centers that look like miniature daisies may be Daisy Fleabane. Another weed plant with surprises. #DaisyFleabane #ErigeronAnnus #MedicinalWeeds #GardensAll #MedicinalHerbsAndTheirUses #NaturalMedicine

How is Fleabane Used

All parts of the fleabane plant are used, but the leaves and flowers are most active.[5]https://naturalpath.net/williamson/herb-of-the-day-eastern-daisy-fleabane/

Tea – Leaves, Roots and Flowers

For tea, only the flowers and leaves of fleabane, (Erigeron annus), are used. Collect while plant is in bloom, then dry. You can bake herbs to dry for two hours in an oven at 175 F degrees, or use a dehydrator. Store dried flowers and leaves in a container with tight lid.  

Tinctures – Leaves, Flowers

“An alcohol and water tincture extracts the medicinal phytochemical compounds better than a tea, which loses the oil soluble compounds that are the most active.” 
~NaturalPath.net[6]https://naturalpath.net/williamson/herb-of-the-day-eastern-daisy-fleabane/

What is a Tincture?

Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts of fresh or dried roots, barkes, stems, leaves, flowers seeds, and/or berries, that have that have been steeped (usually) in an alcohol solvent, typically vodka or brandy for 2-6 weeks. These are most often consumed directly by dropper or diluted in beverages, water or foods.

All tinctures are extracts, but not all extracts are tinctures! 
~Mountain Rose Herbs

Extracts – Roots, Leaves

  • Root extract can reduce inflammation
  • Leaf extract has antioxidant properties and may also benefit Alzheimer’s

What is an extract?

Extracts use non-alcohol based solvents such as vinegarglycerine, or water.[7]https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/how-to-make-herbal-vinegar

We found just one brand of daisy fleabane extract on Amazon and it’s blended with cinnamon, but if you have access to Erigeron annuus, it’s super easy to make your own.

Essential Oils

  • Anti-fungal
  • Protect against cancer

For their to be so much research citing the benefits of Erigeron annuus, it’s surprising that there are not more commercially available products out there for it. However, it may have to do with the volatility of the fleabane oil and how it loses potency, especially when dried for teas or powders.

SOURCE: Mountain Rose Herbs

Best Jars for Herbal Extracts and Dispenser Bottles

Many people just use their 16-32 oz mason jars for steeping. However, we tend to make smaller batches of the seldom used tinctures. For example, our lemon balm tincture only get used maybe a couple times a month as a sleep aid, so a small batch can last the year.

It’s advisable to fill up the jar halfway with loosely packed herbs, but all the way with the solvent medium (e.g., alcohol or vinegar). You want to keep the brew from corroding metal lids, so we go for jars with plastic lids like these smaller 4 oz glass jars with plastic lids for small amounts of herbal concoctions.

These are also a good size for doubling as a container for lotions and salves, so we like that you can buy a batch that can do double duty. But if you have lots of mason jars, just them but just place a protective layer over your brew, such as parchment paper of a plastic wrap or zip bag before you screw on the lid. Alternately, you can get a bundle of plastic mason jar lids.

Dropper Bottles for Herbal Extracts

For extracts we use less often or herbs we have less of, we like 2 oz sized dropper bottles, so one of the 4 oz steeper jars will fill two of the 2 oz dropper bottles.

For herbal extracts we use more often or herbs that we have lots to preserve, we like the larger jars and 4 oz dropper bottles. We also dehydrate most herbs to use for teas or powders throughout the winter.

Fleabane, (Erigeron Annuus) water extract may be useful as an effective natural product to prevent free radicals, obesity and obesity-related metabolic syndrome.
~2019 Fleabane (Erigeron Annuus) Study[8]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6562390/

Fleabane - Erigeron Annus - may be useful as an effective natural way to prevent free radicals, obesity and related metabolic syndrome. #DaisyFleabane #ErigeronAnnus #MedicinalWeeds #MedicinalHerbsAndTheirUses #NaturalMedicine

Fleabane Uses by Native American Tribes

Several native American tribes used this plant.

  • Lakotas:
    • tea for children, to aid with sore mouths
    • tea for adults with urination issues
  • Navajo:
    • used the plant to make lotions for headaches and body pains
  • Mesquakies:
    • made powder from the dried flowers for a snuff for head colds or to dry up mucous conditions
  • Cherokee:
    • infused the root for use in:
      • coughs
      • colds
      • menstrual issues
      • bad vision
      • hemorrhaging
      • kidney problems
      • epilepsy
      • gout
      • female healing following a miscarriage
  • Ojibwa:
    • used it for tuberculosis
    • reduce or eliminate hemorrhaging
  • Blackfeet:
    • diarrhea and dysentery
  • Catawba:
    • used it for cardiovascular issues
  • Cheyenne
    • boiled the plant in water and inhaled the steam for head colds and respiratory complaints.
  • Other tribes used fleabane for:
    • stomach issues
    • intestinal parasites
    • rheumatism
    • lameness
    • insect repellant
    • boil for a sweat lodge inhalant
    • burn for natural insect repellant
    • blossoms were mixed with brains, buffalo spleen and gall for hide tanning
    • plant dye
    • friction fires (the stalk) referred by some tribes as ‘fire-maker’.
  • Mexicans
    • used fleabane for toothaches and to make tooth powder
  • Early settlers
    • stuffed their mattresses with fleabane and hung clusters in the homes to drive away fleas, hence the name, however other sources claim it doesn’t work for fleas

Earlier Centuries Use of Fleabane

Dr. Nicholas Culpeper, English botanist, herbalist, physician, astrologer, 1616-1654

Culpeper refers to this plant in his writings as well. He said the English call it ‘mullet’ and that it is a hot and dry plant. He states that,
           “The herb being spread under foot and smoked in any place, will drive away venomous creatures and will kill and destroy fleas and gnats. An ointment of the root and leaves is used with success for the itch.” 

Benefits of Fleabane

Fleabane’s Medicinal Benefits Include

  • Antimicrobial – leaves, root
  • Antioxidant – quercetin, thymol and kaempferol
  • Diuretic (King’s American Dispensary by Felter & Lloyd)
  • Astringent – leaves
  • Respiratory – flowers
  • Congested cough – flowers
  • Digestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Diabetes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Kidneys and Bladder
  • Menstrual problems
  • Obesity
  • Postpartum bleeding
  • Hemorrhage
  • Kidney stimulant

Caffeic Acid Benefits –

Fleabane contains caffeic acid, which is beneficial for:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Supplements
  • Inflammation
  • Safe, even in large doses
  • Inhibits cancer growth
    • breast cancer
    • colon cancer
    • oral cancer cells
  • Antioxidant used in skin and body care products 

SOURCES:

WARNING: Do not take during pregnancy or if allergic to ragweed, daisies, and related plants. This information cannot be construed as medical advice. Always seek appropriate and direct guidance from trained practitioners.

SOURCE: Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine

Close up, Daisy Fleabane, Erigeron annuus, growing in a roadside drainage area. Image by GardensAll.com

Fleabane Botanical Classification

Scientific name: Erigeron annuus
Higher classification: Daisy family
Genus and Species: Erigeron canadensis
Subfamily: Asteroideae
Family: Asteraceae

Daisy Fleabane — Erigeron annuus — Common Names: 

  • Horseweed
  • Eastern Daisy Fleabane
  • Canadian fleabane
  • Fleabane daisy
  • Colt’s tail
  • Butter weed
  • Fireweed
  • Blood-stanch
  • Cow’s tail
  • Bitter weed

The USDA Forestry Service cites 390 known species of fleabane worldwide and about 173 species in North America. Similar plants to daisy fleabane – Erigeron annuus is Erigeron philadelphicus[10]https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/erigeron_lanatus.shtml [11]https://www.ediblewildfood.com/daisy-fleabane.aspx

SOURCES:
USDA Forestry Service
EdibleWildfood.com

Daisy Fleabane leaves are edible and medicinal and can be added to salads, steamed or sautéed. #DaisyFleabane #ErigeronAnnus #MedicinalWeeds #MedicinalHerbsAndTheirUses #NaturalMedicine

Wishing you the best health and wellness!

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319510.php []
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