It is a pretty strange name for a plant, if you think about it… Why is fleabane called fleabane? Is it because it gets rid of fleas? Well, sort of!
Before you rejoice and throw away the Frontline flea treatments, let’s delve a ;little more into this fascinating plant, and the origins of its name.
What You'll Learn Today
Why Is Fleabane Called Fleabane?
The name sounds a little like the hero of a fantasy novel, doesn’t it? Well, there is a lot that is special about fleabane, as it happens!
The word “bane” means to cause something great distress, or even to kill it. And we all know what fleas are, right?
So put these two words together and we realise that fleabane is useful at deterring those nasty little itchy parasites – or at least it has been used for this purpose for a long time.
We’re not saying that you can replace your pet’s flea treatment with just a plant, but this name has its origins in truth.
This humble plant has been used for centuries – either dried, scattered about the place or burnt – to deter those itchy little biters.
When it is alive, it attracts numerous bugs, insects and pollinators, but as a flea deterrent it can be pretty effective!
This little video tells you all you could ever want to know about this plant – including its interesting name:
What Can You Do With Fleabane?
If you were hoping to use this plant as a natural alternative to chemical flea treatments, you will be sadly disappointed – it is not very effective, despite the name!
You can, however, use your fleabane patch for a few other things:
- Eating. The flowers and young leaves are considered edible, either raw or cooked, and many people report that this plant tastes a little like spinach.
- Making tea. The flowers and leaves of fleabane make a mild tasting tea – you can either use the plant fresh, or dry it out first.
- Decoration. There’s no denying it, these are really pretty little plants that will cheer up your garden no end!
- Attracting pollinators. Despite the name, fleabane is very attractive to insects. Many beneficial species, such as bees and butterflies, love this plant.
- Medicine. If you are so inclined, you can follow numerous recipes that show how you can use fleabane as a diuretic and an expectorant.
- Dried displays. These flowers are not much use in cut displays, as they tend to wilt quickly, but they are easy to dry and look fabulous.
- Flea treatment. As we have mentioned, it is not particularly effective, but if you are looking to avoid chemical flea treatment then there is no harm in making your own with fleabane as an added ingredient.
Are Fleabane Flowers Toxic?
Although it is considered a wild edible, there are a few things to consider before you start chomping on it.
The flowers of most fleabane are considered edible, and though they do not have much flavour they can really jazz up a salad.
You can also eat the young leaves – either lightly steamed or raw – and the roots can also be used medicinally.
There are no toxicity reports in people – though if you are pregnant or breastfeeding then you should definitely avoid eating plants you find in your garden!
However, people and pets are different, and some plants can be fine for us but not for our furry friends.
Some types of Erigeron are considered toxic to dogs and cats – Erigeron annuus is one of these.
If you have this particular fleabane growing in your garden and you have pets who like to nibble on plants, it’s best to uproot this one.
In general, these flowers are so good for our favorite pollinators that it is best to just leave it to them!
Do Pollinators Like Fleabane?
In short, yes they do. Similarly to Aster, there are a great many different species that love this plant, either to eat or to lay their eggs.
As well as standard bees and butterflies, fleabane plays host to a wide variety of other pollinators, some which are rare and others which use this plant as their main source of food.
Since pollinators are becoming more and more rare, it is essential that we keep their favorite plants going, so that they can keep going too.
Check out this fascinating article which tells you many of the different species that make fleabane their home.
Does Fleabane Repel Ticks?
Ticks are a dreadful part of the natural world – they bring no benefit whatsoever, and their bites can cause some really serious illnesses.
We’ll gladly take any plant that can help repel ticks – and luckily for you, fleabane is one of these plants.
It doesn’t do much against fleas, despite the name, but the smell and taste of this plant can help deal with ticks in your area.
Having it in your garden will create a natural tick-free zone which is great if you have children or pets – and it will also protect you!
You can either grow it all round the edges of your garden and hope that it keeps the bloodsucking parasites away, or you can use it topically.
Crush the leaves and gently rub them into your pet’s fur or onto your skin, and you should find that the ticks stay away,
Alternatively, you can make an infused oil that you can spray on like an over the counter bug spray.
Fleabane Key Facts
|Well draining, loam sand and chalk with alkaline to neutral pH
|12-13 degrees C
|Moist but not soaking – can survive better in waterlogged soil than many other plants
|Feed lightly with liquid fertilizer during active growth
|May to November
|Resistant to pests
|10 – 12 inches
Now that we know a little more about this pretty plant, we can see that it would have been used as a bug deterrent in the days before we had pharmacies and chemicals!
We’re not saying that this plant should be used in place of standard flea or tick treatment – but isn’t it interesting to find out that you could, if you wanted to? And even if it doesn’t work, it’s a lovely plant to grow!