Fleabane, Canadian

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Fleabane, Canadian

Botanical Name: Erigeron Canadense (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae

Synonyms: Fleawort. Coltstail. Prideweed.
Parts Used: Herb, seeds.
Habitat: This species of Fleabane is an American annual, common in Northern and Middle States as well as in Canada, growing in fields and meadows and by roadsides, and closely allied to the Common Fleabane.

History: It was introduced into Europe in the seventeenth century. Parkinson, in his Theatrum Botanicum (1640), mentions it as having been brought to Europe, but describes it as an American species, not yet growing in England. In 1653 we hear of it growing in the Botanic Gardens of Paris, and soon after it had become a weed about Paris. We first hear of it in England in 1669, and since its introduction it has often been found in the neighbourhood of London and in the Thames Valley, where it appears to have naturalized itself here and there, though it is very rare in the rest of England. Green (Universal Herbal, 1832) stated that it was to be found on cultivated ground in Glamorganshire and also on rubbish heaps.

The name Erigeron denotes 'soon becoming old,' and is most appropriate, for in many of the species the plant, even when in flower, has a worn-out appearance, giving the idea of a weed which has passed its prime.

Parkinson says Fleabane 'bound to the forehead is a great helpe to cure one of the frensie.'

Culpepper says 'Flea-wort' (Fleabane) obtained its name 'because the seeds are so like Fleas'!

Description: It has an unbranched stem, with lance-shaped leaves, the lower ones with short stalks and with five teeth, the upper ones with uncut edges and narrower, 1 to 2 inches long. The stem is bristly and grows several feet high, bearing composite heads of flowers, small, white and very numerous, blossoming from June to September.

Part Used: The whole herb is gathered when in bloom and dried in bunches. The seeds are also used.

Constituents: The herb contains a bitter extractive, tannic and gallic acids and a volatile oil, to which its virtues are due

Medicinal Action and Uses: Astringent, diuretic, tonic. It is considered useful in gravel, diabetes, dropsy and many kidney diseases, and is employed in diarrhoea and dysentery.

Oil of Erigeron resembles in its action Oil of Turpentine, but is less irritating. It has been used to arrest haemorrhage from the lungs or alimentary tract, but this property is not assigned to it in modern medicine.

It is said to be a valuable remedy for inflamed tonsils and ulceration and inflammation of the throat generally.

The drug has a feeble odour and an astringent, aromatic and bitter taste. It is given in infusion (dose, wineglassful to a teacupful), oil (dose, 2 to 5 drops) on sugar. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.