The Fleabane is everywhere throughout these wee woods. I first thought them to be a small daisy, then a tansy relative. The funny thing is that I was right on both accounts. Fleabane is a member of the daisy family and the tansies are relatives as well.
Common Name: Philadelphia Fleabane, Fleabane Daisy, Marsh Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus)
Appearance and Habitat: The fleabane daisy grows along roadsides and in fields and woodlands. It has more than 150 threadlike, white ray flowers. The center, disk flowers are 5-toothed and yellow, and there are many flower heads to each much-branched stem. The yellow center with the large number of very fine ray flowers is the best identification. They are much finer than those of other daisies or asters.
Flower heads are 1/2-3/4 inch across. The genus name, from Greek eri (early) and geron (old man), presumably refers to the fact that the plant flowers early and has a hoary down suggesting an old man's beard. Robin's Plantain (E. pulchellus) is slightly shorter and has fewer, but larger, lilac or violet flower heads, as well as stem leaves that are sparse and stalk-less but do not clasp the stem; it is insect-pollinated and also spreads actively by runners.
An erect, biennial/perennial, 4″-36″ tall orb usually with long, spreading hairs. The flower head is 1/2′ – 3/4″ wide, 150-400 pink to white rays up to 1/3″ long, disks yellow and flat; in florescence of usually more than 9 heads per cluster; blooms May-Aug. The fruit from the flowers, dry seed on fluffy pappus. It has basal leaves toothed, narrowly-oblong with a rounded tipped; stem leaves clasping. Found in wet areas, woods, shores, meadows. Thickets, fields, and woods in low prairies and stream-banks, often on calcareous clay; in N. America – Labrador to British Columbia, south to Florida and California.
A biennial/perennial growing to 0.7 m (2ft 4in) by 0.3 m (1ft). It is hardy to zone 2. It is in flower from Jul to August.
Warnings: Contact with plant can cause dermatitis in sensitive people.
Edible Uses: None.
Medicinal Uses :
A tea made from the plant is astringent, diaphoretic (induces sweating), diuretic (increases the production of urine) and emmenagogue (increases menstrual flow). It is used in the treatment of chronic diarrhea, gout, gravel, epilepsy and menstrual problems.
A poultice of the plant is used to treat headaches and is also applied to sores.
It should not be taken by pregnant women since it can induce a miscarriage.
A snuff made from the powdered florets is used to make a person with catarrh (excessive discharge or buildup of mucus in the nose caused my inflammation in the mucous membrane) sneeze.
This magick herb is associated with Hephaistos, who was the son of Hera; he had no father, and some see him as Hera's masculine manifestation. This god of the forge was a gold- and silversmith talented enough to build beautiful android women made from gold to help him in his work. They were not mere robots but were outspoken and intelligent. A blow from his hammer freed Athena from the skull of Zeus (and he later made many of her weapons, as well as Aphrodite's girdle and Hermes' helmet). He made Zeus's thunderbolts, but Zeus still tossed Hephaistos out of Olympus when he and Hera stood up to Zeus.
The Romans identified Hephaistos with Vulcan. Except for his association with thunderbolt manufacturing, he is fire of earth, and in particular, fire used for technology (as opposed to fire for the home, which is Hestia). Some see him as the first alchemist. Most assign the tarot card the Hermit to Hephaistos, but some see his card as the Devil, who is concerned with craft and who as Lucifer brought fire to the world (as Prometheus brought Hephaistos's fire to the world of Greek myth). As the Devil is often shown with two humans chained to him, Hephaistos is the lord of binding, because he used binding a number of times - he bound Hera to her throne, he bound Prometheus to the rock, he bound his wife Aphrodite and Ares together when he found them in bed. Also, in much folk belief, the Devil is lame. Hephaistos became lame on account of being thrown from Olympus, and many Greek earth beings (the old pre-Olympians or immortals) were depicted as lame - the idea being that they were torn from the earth like an uprooted plant. Top
Now for the fleabane connection: in myth, Hephaistos tried to sexually assault Athena, but she evaded him and his fiery semen fell to Mother Earth, engendering Erikhthonios, a serpent-man (who became the first king of Athens) - and fleabane. In grimoires and older magickal texts like the Greek magical papyri, references to "semen of Hephaistos" mean fleabane.
Because of fleabane's association with this fire god, it is often considered a Fire herb. Interestingly enough, in the old days, the Cherokee started friction fires with the dried stalk of a fleabane, which they called "firemaker." However, the Navajo used it for contraception and together with other herbs, for menstrual pain, and for those reasons and because of the flower's shape and color, some consider it a Moon herb. Like the Moon, the flowers change quickly, becoming darker, and they don't last. For that reason its botanical name means "soon an old man." As a Moon herb, it encourages chastity (which also fits with the Hephaistos myth). Some believe that sprinkling fleabane seeds between sheets can cause chastity - it would certain cause sleeplessness. Others recommend making it into an unguent for that purpose and align it with camphor, which is both Moon associated and which is used for chastity.
(Exorcism, Protection, Chastity)
Fleabane can play a role in exorcism and protection, being especially effective against vermin-like spirits.
Magical Uses: Has been used since ancient times to exorcise evil spirits, and also to protect against their entry into the home. To ward off evil, mix fleabane, some St. Johns Wort, wheat, and a few capers into a sachet and hang above the door.
A neat little find I hope readers will enjoy! Not just one book, but under the pdf shown, you will find many books that will engage you if you have an interest in the magical and alchemical properties of the plant world. Enjoy!
I'm located in the Niagara Region of Southern Ontario, Canada.
Tips/Donations help build & maintain the site.
They are never expected and always appreciated!
©2010 Cari-Lee Miller & Recipe for Alchemy.
All rights Reserved.
Your medicine is in the woods.
Your pharmacy is in your kitchen.