A scabland is rough, barren, volcanic topography with thin or no soil and little vegetation. These scabland fleabane (Erigeron bloomeri) specimens were growing in a dry, disturbed, rocky site on the east side of California Highway 299E near the junction with Modoc County Road 84.
A member of the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae), scabland fleabane is a perennial, native found in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho and parts of Utah from 4,000 to 6,500 feet. There are several scabland fleabane varieties.
Many unbranched stems form a clump over the scabland fleabane taproot (cestipose growth form). The alternate, linear leaves are densely tufted near the base of the stems and appear hairless or nearly hairless.
The scabland fleabane inflorescence is a single, flat-topped head atop the erect stem. Each discoid head is composed of only yellow disk flowers and no ray flowers. The involucre is urn or bell shaped and composed of linear, hairy phyllaries (bracts).
Scabland fleabane fruits are sparsely hairy, two-ribbed achenes (dry and containing one seed) with sparsely hairy pappi (bristles atop the achene).
Erigeron comes from the Greek and means “old man in spring” – “eri” /early and “geron”/old man. The genus name refers to the early appearing, fluffy white seedheads. California botanist Hiram G Bloomer (1819 – 1874), who collected this plant in Nevada, is honored by the species designation. Another common name for E bloomeri is Bloomer’s fleabane.
The common name “fleabane” was originally applied to a European species of Erigeron. It was believed that bunches of the dried plant would rid the house of fleas.