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   Erigerons, commonly called "Daisies" or "Fleabanes", are a large (173 species in North America) and complex genus.  This web site shows 27 of the 48 species in the Four Corners area. (Other large genera in North America are Astragalus (350 species, 31 on this web site), Penstemon (250 species, 19 on this web site), and Eriogonum (250 species, 14 on this web site).

    Some Erigerons are annuals, some biennials, most are perennials.

    Erigerons have numerous quite small tubular disk flowers. Such disk flowers are typical of most Asteraceae, but most Erigerons are distinctive in also having numerous very narrow (~1 millimeter wide) ray flowers.    

    Almost all Erigerons have disk and ray flowers; a few Erigerons (some in our area) have only disk flowers.

    Disk flowers are almost always yellow and ray flowers are white or very pale blue/purple or pale pink. In North America, but not in the Four Corners region, there are a few Erigerons with yellow ray flowers.

    Erigeron disk flowers are bisexual and fertile and the ray flowers are pistillate and fertile.

    Phyllaries are almost always about the same height but vary in width, hairiness, and color. 

    Erigerons grow from the semi-desert to the alpine and although a few are uncommon, most are quite common.

   In 1753 Linnaeus gave the genus its name from the Greek "eri" ("early") + "geron" ("old man", as in "geriatrics", the study of old age processes and problems).  Perhaps the Greek name refers to characteristics of some now unknown plant or perhaps it refers to the early flowering of many species and to the bristly pappus of the developing seed, or perhaps to the puffy, grizzled appearance of the mature seed head.

Erigeron compositus

Erigeron compositus

Erigeron compositus (Composite Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Montane to alpine.  Meadows, openings.  Summer.
Cinnamon Pass, August 1, 2007 and Colorado Trail near Stony Pass, July 21, 2011.

This lovely Daisy is, in the words of Intermountain Flora, "a common and highly variable ... species", but it is quite distinct from other Erigerons, especially because of its deeply divided basal leaves.  E. compositus is primarily apomictic, i.e., it reproduces not by pollination of ovules but by parthenogenesis (Greek for "virgin birth").  Ovules develop into new life without being fertilized.  This accounts for the uniformity of characteristics in local populations.  Distant populations do differ, however, especially in pubescence and ray flower petal length. 

Rayless forms are common according to Colorado plant authority, William Weber.  Both forms grow from two to ten inches tall; both plants in the photographs at left are six inches tall. 

E. compositus enjoys rocky openings and can be found through most higher elevations, but in the Four Corners area (only in Colorado and Utah) it is chiefly found from high montane to alpine.  As is true for almost all of the blue Erigerons, the color of E. compositus ray flowers varies from white to blue to pink. As noted above, Erigeron disk flowers are yellow. 

Frederick Pursh named this species in 1814 from a specimen collected by Meriwether Lewis in 1806 near Lewiston, Idaho.

Click to see more Erigeron compositus.

Erigeron compositus (Composite Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Montane to alpine.  Meadows, openings.  Summer.
Cinnamon Pass, August 1, 2007.

Erigeron compositus (Composite Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Montane to alpine.  Meadows, openings.  Summer.
Cinnamon Pass, August 1, 2007.

Range maps © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Erigeron compositus