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Alpine Fleabane

Erigeron borealis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Alpine Blue Sow-thistle, Alpine Cotula, 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 Fleabane, 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, Treasureflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White African Daisy, 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:
30 centimetres tall
Cliffs, gardens, grassland, meadows, mountains, rocky places.

Pink, many petals
Solitary pinkish-purple, daisy-like flowers, up to 2cm across. Flowers have 5 stamens.
The fruit is an achene, up to 2.5mm in length. There are a tuft of unbranched hairs at the tip.
A hairy perennial plant with narrowly spoon-shaped leaves in a basal rosette. The leaves are configured alternately along both sides of the stem. The narrowest leaves are at the top. Only the lower leaves are stalked. The stems are usually unbranched and sometimes arching.
Other Names:
Artic Fleabane, Boreal Fleabane, Highland Fleabane, Northern Fleabane.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Erigeron borealis, also known as northern fleabane or Arctic fleabane, is a species of wildflower in the daisy family (Asteraceae). It is native to North America and found in the Arctic, subarctic and alpine regions of Canada and the United States, from Alaska and Canada, to the northern United States.

Erigeron borealis is a perennial herb that grows to about 6-12 inches tall, with a hairy stem and hairy leaves that are alternate and lance-shaped. The plant produces a profusion of small, daisy-like flowers with white or pink rays and yellow centers, that bloom from late spring to early fall. The flowers are typically 1/2-1 inch in diameter and are followed by small, flattened achenes (fruits) that are equipped with fluffy bristles to help disperse them by wind.

This plant is adaptable to a wide range of soils and can grow in sandy, rocky, or gravelly soils, it also prefers full sun but can tolerate some shade. It can grow in subalpine and alpine meadows, talus slopes, rock outcrops, along streambanks, and other moist areas. It's also a good choice for rock gardens, cottage gardens, and naturalistic plantings. It's drought tolerant, cold hardy and can grow in a wide range of climates.

Erigeron borealis is propagated by seed or by division of clumps in the fall or spring. It's hardy to USDA zones 2-8 and it is not considered invasive. The plant is not known to have any specific medicinal properties and it is considered safe to grow and handle.


Alpine Fleabane, also known as Erigeron borealis, is a beautiful and unique wildflower that can be found in alpine and subalpine regions of North America. With its delicate petals and bright colors, this plant is a favorite of hikers and botanists alike.

Appearance and Characteristics

The Alpine Fleabane is a perennial plant that typically grows to be around 15-30 centimeters in height. Its leaves are narrow and lance-shaped, and its stems are covered in fine hairs. The flowers are small, measuring only about 1-2 centimeters in diameter, but they are abundant and very showy. They typically appear in the summer months, from July to September, and can be found in shades of pink, purple, and white.

Habitat and Range

Erigeron borealis is typically found in alpine and subalpine regions of North America, from Alaska to California, as well as in parts of Canada. It prefers to grow in rocky or gravelly soils and is often found in areas with cold, wet climates. This plant is well adapted to its environment and can withstand harsh weather conditions, such as heavy snow and strong winds.

Uses and Benefits

Alpine Fleabane has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including coughs, colds, and headaches. It is also thought to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. However, it is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the medicinal properties of this plant.

In addition to its potential medicinal uses, Alpine Fleabane is also a beautiful addition to any garden or natural area. Its delicate flowers and unique appearance make it a popular choice among gardeners and landscape designers.

Conservation Status

Erigeron borealis is not currently listed as an endangered species, but it is still important to take measures to protect this plant and its habitat. This can be done by avoiding trampling on or disturbing Alpine Fleabane when hiking or exploring in its natural habitat, and by supporting conservation efforts in the areas where it grows.

Taxonomy and Naming

The Alpine Fleabane belongs to the Asteraceae family, which includes many other well-known plants such as sunflowers, daisies, and asters. It was first described by the famous botanist Carl Linnaeus in his Species Plantarum in 1753. The genus name, Erigeron, comes from the Greek words eri, meaning early, and geron, meaning old man, referring to the plant's early flowering and the white hairs on its stems. The species name, borealis, means northern, referring to the plant's range in northern North America.

Ecology and Adaptations

The Alpine Fleabane is adapted to cold, harsh environments, and it has several unique adaptations that allow it to thrive in these conditions. For example, its leaves are narrow and leathery, which helps to reduce water loss and protect the plant from harsh winds. Its roots are also well adapted to rocky soils, and the plant is able to survive in areas with low nutrient availability. The flowers of the Alpine Fleabane are also adapted to the cold environment, with short, tubular flower heads that protect the reproductive organs from the wind and cold.

Cultural Significance

The Alpine Fleabane has cultural significance for several indigenous peoples of North America. The Blackfeet tribe of Montana, for example, use the plant in traditional medicine to treat sore throats and coughs. The Inupiaq people of Alaska also use the plant in traditional medicine, and they believe that it can be used to prevent miscarriage. In addition to its medicinal uses, the Alpine Fleabane is also valued for its beauty and is sometimes used in traditional ceremonies and celebrations.

Invasive Potential

While the Alpine Fleabane is not currently considered invasive, there is some concern that it could become invasive in areas where it has been introduced outside of its natural range. This is because the plant can produce a large number of seeds, which can easily be dispersed by wind or animals. If you are planning to introduce Alpine Fleabane to your garden or natural area, it is important to take steps to prevent the plant from spreading beyond its intended location.

Overall, the Alpine Fleabane is a fascinating and beautiful plant with many unique adaptations and potential uses. Whether you are a botanist, hiker, or gardener, this plant is sure to impress with its delicate flowers and hardy nature.


The Alpine Fleabane is a great plant for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and other insects. The flowers of the plant have a central disk surrounded by ray flowers, which provide a large amount of nectar and pollen. Bees and other insects are attracted to the bright colors of the flowers, and they can often be seen buzzing around the plant collecting nectar and pollen.


The Alpine Fleabane is a relatively easy plant to propagate from seed or by dividing the root mass. If you are collecting seeds, it is important to do so when the plant is mature and the seeds are dry. The seeds can then be sown in a well-draining soil mix and kept moist until they germinate. If you are dividing the root mass, it is best to do so in the early spring or fall, when the plant is not actively growing.

Gardening Tips

If you are planning to grow Alpine Fleabane in your garden, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the plant prefers well-drained soil and can become waterlogged in heavy soils. It also prefers full sun to partial shade and can become leggy if grown in too much shade. Additionally, the plant can become invasive if not managed properly, so it is important to remove any seed heads before they have a chance to spread.


Alpine Fleabane, Erigeron borealis, is a beautiful and unique plant with many potential uses and benefits. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, cultural significance, or simply its beauty, this plant is sure to impress. If you are planning to grow Alpine Fleabane in your garden or natural area, just remember to take steps to protect the plant and its habitat and to manage it properly to prevent it from becoming invasive.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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