Spreading fleabane is a short-lived perennial that grows wild in many parts of the western United States. It is found in disturbed areas, such as housing developments, where it will bloom almost year-round. Don't be surprised if it crops up near your irrigated plants, to stay for just a year or two. It helps fill in between plants and soften the overall appearance of a garden. If it begins looking a little thin, just cut back to the basal foliage
There are over 150 fleabanes found in the United States and it is often difficult to tell them apart. Spreading fleabane is common in our area, but you may see other fleabanes as well.
Wildlife value: the flowers attract small butterflies, especially in seasons when little else is in bloom.
Map of distribution in US (yellow indicates plant is native but rare)
This plant is in the Asteraceae - the aster family.
Spreading fleabane grows to 18-24 inches, the flower stems reaching above a clump of basal leaves. With age the flower stems will spread out, making the plant wider than it is high.
The alternate leaves are long and slender, about 1-2 inches long. The lower leaves can be 3" long and may have just a few lobes. The leaves on the upper flower stem are shorter than those below.
The flower buds are nodding (see bottom center of photo). The 0.5 inch flowers have a yellow center surrounded by many strap-like petals. The petals are white but age to a lilac. They close at night and open in response to warmth and sunlight.
The seed head resembles a dandelion, with the seeds in the center of the ball. A flower bud just starting to open is shown at the upper right of the photo. The petals are pink in bud, white when the flower first opens and mature to a lilac. Often all three colors can be seen on the same plant.