DAISY DAISYLEAVED FLEABANE
(Erigeron pulchellus; E. bellifolium of Gray) Thistle family
Flower-heads - Composite, daisy-like, 1 to 1/2 in. across; the
outer circle of about 50 pale bluish-violet ray florets; the disk
florets greenish yellow. Stem: Simple, erect, hairy, juicy,
flexible, from 10 in. to 2
ft. high, producing runners and
offsets from base. Leaves: Spatulate, in a flat tuft about the
root; stem leaves narrow, more acute, seated, or partly clasping.
Preferred Habitat - Moist ground, hills, banks, grassy fields.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - United States and Canada, east of the Mississippi.
Like an aster blooming long before its season, Robin's plantain
wears a finely cut lavender fringe around a yellow disk of minute
florets; but one of the first, not the last, in the long
procession of composites has appeared when we see gay companies
of these flowers nodding their heads above the grass in the
spring breezes as if they were village gossips.
Doubtless it was the necessity for attracting insects which led
the Robin's plantain and other composites to group a quantity of
minute florets, each one of which was once an independent,
detached blossom, into a common head. In union there is strength.
Each floret still contains, however, its own tiny drop of nectar,
its own stamens, its own pistil connected with embryonic seed
below; therefore, when an insect alights where he can get the
greatest amount of nectar for the least effort, and turns round
and round to exhaust each nectary, he is sure to dust the pistils
with pollen, and so fertilize an entire flower-head in a trice.
The lavender fringe and the hairy involucre and stem serve the
end of discouraging crawling insects, which cannot transfer
pollen from plant to plant, from pilfering sweets that cannot be
properly paid for. Small wonder that, although the composites
have attained to their socialistic practices at a comparatively
recent day as evolutionists count time, they have become as
individuals and as species the most numerous in the world; the
thistle family, dominant everywhere, containing not less than ten
COMMON or PHILADELPHIA FLEABANE, or SKEVISH (E. Philadelphicus),
a smaller edition of Robin's plantain, with a more findely cut
fringe, its reddish-purple ray florets often numbering one
hundred and fifty, may be found in low fields and woods
throughout North America, except in the circumpolar regions.
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