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Common Fleabane

Pulicaria dysenterica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Alpine Blue Sow-thistle, Alpine Cotula, Alpine Fleabane, Alpine Saw-wort, Annual Ragweed, Annual Sunflower, Argentine Fleabane, Autumn Hawkbit, Autumn Oxeye, Beaked Hawksbeard, Beggarticks, Bilbao Fleabane, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Blue Globe-thistle, Bristly Oxtongue, Broad-leaved Cudweed, Broad-leaved Ragwort, Brown Knapweed, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Cabbage Thistle, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Chamois Ragwort, Changing Michaelmas Daisy, Chicory, Chinese Mugwort, Chinese Ragwort, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Cudweed, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Common Wormwood, Coneflower, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Cotton Thistle, Cottonweed, Creeping Thistle, Daisy Bush, Dwarf Cudweed, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Eastern Groundsel, Eastern Leopardsbane, Elecampane, English Hawkweed, Fen Ragwort, Feverfew, Field Fleawort, Field Wormwood, Fox and Cubs, French Tarragon, Gallant Soldier, Garden Lettuce, Giant Butterbur, Glabrous-headed Hawkweed, Glandular Globe-thistle, Glaucous Michaelmas Daisy, Globe Artichoke, Globe-thistle, Goat's Beard, Golden Ragwort, Golden Samphire, Goldilocks Aster, Grass-leaved Goldenrod, Great Lettuce, Greater Burdock, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Guernsey Fleabane, Hairless Blue Sow-thistle, Hairless Leptinella, Hairy Michaelmas Daisy, Harpur Crewe's Leopardsbane, Hawkweed Oxtongue, Heath Cudweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Highland Cudweed, Hoary Mugwort, Hoary Ragwort, Hybrid Knapweed, Intermediate Burdock, Irish Fleabane, Jersey Cudweed, Jerusalem Artichoke, Lance-leaved Hawkweed, Lavender-cotton, Leafless Hawksbeard, Least Lettuce, Leopardplant, Leopardsbane, Leptinella, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Hawkbit, Lesser Sunflower, London Bur-marigold, Magellan Ragwort, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Hawksbeard, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Sow-thistle, Marsh Thistle, Meadow Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Milk Thistle, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Cudweed, Narrow-leaved Hawkweed, Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, New Zealand Holly, Nipplewort, Nodding Bur-marigold, Northern Hawksbeard, Norwegian Mugwort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Pearly Everlasting, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Ragweed, Perennial Sow-thistle, Perennial Sunflower, Pineapple Mayweed, Plantain-leaved Leopardsbane, Ploughman's Spikenard, Plymouth Thistle, Pontic Blue Sow-thistle, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Purple Coltsfoot, Rayed Tansy, Red Star Thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Red-tipped Cudweed, Robin's Plantain, Roman Chamomile, Rough Cocklebur, Rough Hawkbit, Rough Hawksbeard, Russian Lettuce, Safflower, Salsify, Saw-wort, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Sea Wormwood, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shrub Ragwort, Sicilian Chamomile, Silver Ragwort, Slender Mugwort, Slender Thistle, Small Cudweed, Small Fleabane, Smooth Cat's-ear, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Cat's-ear, Spotted Hawkweed, Sticky Groundsel, Stinking Chamomile, Stinking Hawksbeard, Tall Fleabane, Tall Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Tansy, Thin-leaved Sunflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White Butterbur, White Buttons, Willdenow's Leopardsbane, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Wood Ragwort, Woody Fleabane, Woolly Thistle, Yarrow, Yellow Chamomile, Yellow Fox and Cubs, Yellow Oxeye, Yellow Star Thistle, Yellow Thistle, York Groundsel
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Ditches, fens, fields, gardens, grassland, heathland, marshes, meadows, mountains, riverbanks, riversides, roadsides, scrub, seaside, wasteland, waterside, wetland.

Yellow, many petals
Golden yellow daisy-like flowerheads upto 3cm across, flat-topped. 40-100 disc florets and 20-30 ray florets.
Dry, 1-seeded.
Silvery green leaves. Narrow, pointed, widest at the base, up to 8cm long. The alternate leaves are covered in a white down. The upper leaves look wrinkly.
Flowers smell like soap.
Other Names:
Fleabane, Meadow False Fleabane, Tickweed.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Pulicaria dysenterica, also known as fleabane or tickseed, is a species of wildflower in the daisy family (Asteraceae). It is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa, but has been introduced and naturalized in many other parts of the world, including North America.

Pulicaria dysenterica is a perennial herb that can grow up to 2 meters tall, with a woody base and hairy stems. The leaves are alternate, lance-shaped and slightly hairy. The plant produces small, yellow composite flowerheads that bloom from late summer to fall. The flowers are typically 1-2 cm in diameter and are followed by small achenes (fruits) that are equipped with fluffy bristles to help disperse them by wind.

This plant prefers to grow in moist or wet soil, and can be found in marshes, damp meadows, and along streambanks. It can also grow in poor soils, and it tolerates full sun or partial shade.

Pulicaria dysenterica is propagated by seed, division, or by cuttings. It is hardy to USDA zones 4-8, and it is considered as an ornamental plant that can be grown in gardens and wildflower meadows. The plant is not known to have any specific medicinal properties, and it is considered safe to grow and handle, but it can be considered invasive in some regions.


Common Fleabane, scientifically known as Pulicaria dysenterica, is a member of the Asteraceae family, and is a widespread plant in many parts of Europe and western Asia. It is a tall, herbaceous perennial, with yellow, daisy-like flowers that bloom in late summer and early autumn.

The name "fleabane" comes from the plant's traditional use as an insect repellent. In fact, in the past, it was believed that the plant could repel fleas, hence its name. However, the plant is not actually effective in repelling fleas, but it has been used in traditional medicine for various other purposes.

The leaves of the Common Fleabane plant have a somewhat bitter taste, and they have been used in the past to treat dysentery, which is where the plant gets its scientific name. The plant's root has also been used as a treatment for diarrhoea, as it has astringent properties.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Common Fleabane is also valued for its ornamental qualities. Its attractive flowers make it a popular choice for gardens and landscaping, and it is often grown as an ornamental plant in Europe.

Despite its many uses, Common Fleabane should be handled with care, as the plant contains chemicals that can cause skin irritation and other adverse reactions. Additionally, it is important to note that the plant may be toxic if ingested in large quantities.

Common Fleabane is a robust plant that can grow up to 1.5 meters tall, with woody stems and dark green leaves that are slightly hairy. The plant prefers moist soil and is commonly found in damp meadows, along riverbanks, and in other wetland habitats. It is also often found in disturbed areas such as roadsides, fields, and waste grounds.

The bright yellow flowers of the Common Fleabane plant are a source of nectar for many insects, particularly bees and butterflies. In fact, the plant is considered an important food source for some butterfly species, including the Small Tortoiseshell and the Peacock butterfly.

In traditional medicine, Common Fleabane has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including fevers, coughs, and rheumatism. It has also been used as a poultice for wounds and burns, as well as an herbal remedy for treating gastrointestinal issues.

The plant has a long history of use, and it is even mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare, who refers to it as "the bane of flease" in his play "Cymbeline." In addition to its traditional uses, Common Fleabane has been studied for its potential as a source of natural compounds with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

However, it is important to note that Common Fleabane should be used with caution, as it can cause skin irritation and other adverse reactions in some individuals. Additionally, the plant may be toxic if ingested in large quantities, so it is recommended to consult a qualified healthcare professional before using it for medicinal purposes.

In addition to its traditional medicinal uses, Common Fleabane has been studied for its potential as a source of natural compounds with insecticidal, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. The plant contains a variety of chemical compounds, including sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids, and phenolic acids, which are believed to be responsible for its therapeutic effects.

Research has shown that the sesquiterpene lactones in Common Fleabane have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, and may be useful in the treatment of a variety of inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Additionally, the plant's extracts have been shown to possess insecticidal properties, and may be useful in the development of natural insecticides for agricultural use. The plant's essential oils have also been shown to have antifungal properties, and may be useful in the development of natural fungicides for crop protection.

Common Fleabane is a hardy plant that is relatively easy to grow and maintain, making it a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers. It is also an important plant for conservation, as it provides habitat and food for a variety of insects and other wildlife.

Common Fleabane is a versatile and fascinating plant with a long history of use in traditional medicine and many potential benefits for modern health and agriculture. However, it is important to use it with caution and under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional or expert, as it can cause skin irritation and other adverse reactions in some individuals.

In addition to its uses in traditional medicine, Common Fleabane has also been used in folk rituals and superstitions. In some cultures, the plant was believed to have protective properties and was used to ward off evil spirits or negative energy. It was also sometimes used in love spells or other magical rituals.

In parts of Europe, Common Fleabane was also used in traditional brewing practices. The plant's bitter leaves and flowers were added to beer to enhance its flavor and prevent spoilage. In fact, the plant's scientific name, Pulicaria, is derived from the Latin word "pulex," which means flea, and refers to the plant's use in brewing as a means of preventing fleas from infesting the beer.

Today, Common Fleabane continues to be valued for its ornamental and ecological qualities. It is an attractive plant that can add color and texture to gardens and landscapes, and it provides important habitat and food for a variety of insects and other wildlife.

However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with handling or consuming the plant. The plant contains chemicals that can cause skin irritation and other adverse reactions, and it may be toxic if ingested in large quantities. Therefore, it is recommended to consult a qualified healthcare professional or expert before using Common Fleabane for any purpose.

In summary, Common Fleabane is a fascinating plant with a long history of use in traditional medicine, brewing, and folklore. Its potential benefits in modern health and agriculture make it a subject of ongoing scientific research, and its ornamental and ecological value continue to make it a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers. However, caution is advised when handling or consuming the plant, and it should only be used under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional or expert.


Common Fleabane filmed near Wigan, Lancashire on the 29th August 2022.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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