Canada Fleabane

Conyza canadense (L.) Britton.

Synonym: Erigeron canadensis L.

Other common names: Erigeron, horseweed, mare's-tail, Canada erigeron, butterweed, bitter-weed, cow's-tail, colt's-tail, fireweed, bloodstanch, hogweed, prideweed, scabious.

Habitat and range: Canada fleabane is common in fields and waste places and along roadsides almost throughout North America. It is also widely distributed as a weed in the Old World and in South America.

Description: The size of this weed, which is an annual, depends upon the kind of soil in which it grows, the height varying from a few inches only to sometimes 10 feet in favorable soil. The erect stem is bristly hairy or sometimes smooth, and in the larger plants usually branched near the top. The leaves are usually somewhat hairy, the lower ones 1 to 4 inches long, broader at the top and narrowing toward the base, with margins toothed, lobed, or unbroken, while those scattered along the stem are rather narrow with margins generally entire.

This weed, which belongs to the aster family (Asteraceae), produces from June to November numerous heads of small, inconspicuous white flowers, followed by an abundance of seed.

Collection, prices, and uses: The entire herb is used; it should be collected during the flowering period and carefully dried. The price paid is about 5 to 6 cents a pound.

By distillation of the fresh flowering herb a volatile oil is obtained, known as oil of fleabane or oil of erigeron, which is sometimes employed in attempting to control hemorrhages and diarrheal affections. The leaves and tops were formerly official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, from 1820 to 1880, but the oil alone is now recognized as official.

The herb, which has a faint agreeable odor and an astringent and bitter taste, is also used for hemorrhages from various sources and the bleeding of wounds. It is also employed in diarrhea and dropsy.

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