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    Erigerons, commonly called "Daisies" or "Fleabanes", are a large and complex genus.  This web site shows 24 of the 48 species in the Four Corners area;  there are 130 species in North America and 200 world-wide.

     Erigerons have yellow disk flowers and numerous narrow ray flowers that are white, pink, or purple (but not yellow).  They grow from the semi-desert to the alpine regions and although a few are uncommon, most are very 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 grandiflorus
Erigeron grandiflorus.  Synonym: Erigeron simplex. (Large-flowered Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, June 23, 2008.

Weber indicates that this dainty plant is "uncommon or rare on tundra" in Colorado, but it is considered fairly common on Colorado tundra by John Kartesz in his Synthesis and the Flora of North America considers it fairly common in much of the Rockies.  It appears that the disagreement is over splitting and lumping.  Weber considers this species distinct from the much more common Erigeron simplex.  The Synthesis and the FNA combine the two species into one, E. grandiflorus.  Interestingly (or maddeningly) Intermountain Flora and Utah Flora also combine the two species but into E. simplex!

Split or lump, the plant is still lovely, grows only on tundra, is often minute, and is certainly a treat to find.

From collections made by Thomas Drummond in 1826 on the "Summits of the Rocky Mountains" in Canada, William Jackson Hooker named and described Erigeron grandiflorus in volume 2 of his 1834 Flora Boreali-Americana. (Click the title to read Hooker's description and click again to see the beautiful drawings of Erigeron grandiflorus in Hooker's Flora).

Erigeron grandiflorus
Erigeron grandiflorus.  Synonym: Erigeron simplex. (Large-flowered Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Calico Trail, Papoose Peak, July 17, 2008.

These E. grandiflorus are nearly four inches tall, have purple hairs on their phyllaries,  and have nearly glabrous (smooth, non-hairy) leaves.  The plant in the top photograph is only an inch and a half tall, has white hairs on its phyllaries, and has minutely hairy leaves.

Erigeron grandiflorusSynonym: Erigeron simplex. (Large-flowered Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, June 23, 2008.

Erigeron grandiflorusSynonym: Erigeron simplex. (Large-flowered Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, June 23, 2008.
Calico Trail, Papoose Peak, July 17, 2008.

The hairs can range from shaggy white to shaggy purple.

Erigeron grandiflorus
Erigeron grandiflorusSynonym: Erigeron simplex. (Large-flowered Daisy)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, June 23, 2008.

Range map © 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 grandiflorus

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