Weed of the week: Daisy or annual fleabane

May 10, 2010 in Extension

Daisy fleabane (Erigeron annuus) is a common, and fast-growing broadleaf weed found in Pennsylvania lawns and other low maintenance turf areas. This species is a member of the aster family, and has an annual life cycle – germinating from seed in early spring, flowering in early to mid May, and dying at the end of the growing season. Its common name comes from the belief that dried plant material will repel fleas.

If not mowed, daisy fleabane plants can grow over three feet tall, but typically reach only a few inches in height before being mowed in lawns. When flower buds begin to form, the top of the plant bends over to form a Sheppard’s crook. Lower leaves are elongated, lance-shaped with serrated margins, and tend to grow in a rosette. Upper leaves on stems are smaller, narrow, and alternately arranged on stems.

Daisy fleabane is easily recognized by the small clusters of daisy-like flowers produced at the top of each plant. Flowers are about ½–¾” in diameter, the central disk florets are yellow, and are surrounded by many (50-120) fringe-like white rays.

Daisy fleabane is easily controlled with a number of commercial broadleaf herbicides containing 2,4-D and other compounds. Control is best achieved when plants are young and actively growing.