Fleabane, Shepherd's Purse, and Purple Deadnettle
In the United States and Canada there are 191 species in the Erigeron genus, some residing in only one state. The state of Ohio has only 3 native species: the Eastern Daisy Fleabane, the Philadelphia Fleabane, and the Wild Prairie Fleabane (see illustrations below). The subtle differences are hard to see in field, but side by side like this they show off their differences.
These will bloom from now (late spring) through the summer months.
The leaves are edible but fuzzy, best to cook first!
Illustrations courtesy of USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Nothing says that summer is near like the drifting and wafting and waving of the shepherd's purse plant.
Originally from Europe, settlers brought with them the shepherd's purse which took hold and can be found aggressively growing throughout the Americas.
This delicate plant can grow up to 3 feet tall, a cluster of small white flowers adorns the top while along the stem seed pods which resemble that of a shepherd's money bag (hence the name) stretch out to release their seeds.
The health benefits this plant brings are immense: heart and circulatory problems, headaches, vomiting blood, blood in the urine, diarrhea, and bladder infections.
I have read many reports of amazing success helping premenstrual problems, long periods, and menstrual cramps - especially those who deal with fibroids.
It has also been known to be applied directly to the skin for superficial burns and bleeding skin injuries.
Q: What's green and purple and in the springtime covers all the unplowed fields?
A: Deadnettle aka Purple Archangel (Lamium purpureum L.)
This non-native, mildly invasive, species is not an actual nettle, it is instead part of the mint family.
In the spring, the young leaf shoots are harvestable and are a great addition to salads.
The early flowers are also a very important source of food for bees and butterflies.
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.