E. Humilis Erigeron humilis Erigeron humilis

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Alpine Fleabane

Erigeron borealis

  • Name also: Boreal Fleabane
  • Family: Daisy Family – Compositae, subfamily Asteroideae
    (formerly Aster Family – Asteraceae)
  • Growing form: Perennial herb.
  • Height: 15–25 cm (6–10 in.). Stem unbranched, sometimes arching, grey-haired, often reddish brown.
  • Flower: Flowers form 15–25 mm (0.6–1 in.) wide, single flower-like capitula surrounded by involucral bracts. Capitulum ray-florets first white, later light red or purple, tongue-like; intermediate florets thread-like; disk florets first yellowish, later brownish red, tubular, small. Stamens 5. Gynoecium composed of 2 fused carpels. Involucral bracts overlapping, often different lengths, narrow, white-hairy, glabrous tips, brownish violet. Capitula usually solitary, terminating the stem, on rare occasions 1–2 smaller capitula lower down.
  • Leaves: Mainly a basal rosette, alternate on stem. Lower leaves stalked, upper stalkless. Blade narrowly elliptic–narrowly obovate, with entire margins, rosette leaves tapered, sometimes sharp-pointed, virtually glabrous, stem leaves narrow, grey-haired.
  • Fruit: Hairy, 1.8–2.5 mm (0.7–1 in.) long achene with unbranched hairs on tip.
  • Habitat: Fell meadows, scree beds, rocky outcrops, Lappish rock faces. Calciphile.
  • Flowering time: June–August.
  • Endangerment: Vulnerable, protected in all of Finland.

Alpine fleabane is one of our rarest plants and grows at most on a few of the higher fells in north-west Finnish Lapland, lower alpine tundra and tree-line meadows, river banks, gravels and Lappish rock faces. Nowadays alpine fleabane is more common in natural history museums than it is in the wild. Particularly in the 1940s, soon after the species was discovered in Finland for the first time, it was hoarded in herbaria and it probably became rarer in Finland due to forbidden picking. Alpine fleabane is protected nowadays due to its rarity. Despite illegal collection, the most abundant and stable occurrences are on the southern slopes of Saana, a high fell in north-west Finnish Lapland. Alpine fleabane has appeared on at least Urttašvarri fell, a small stand was later discovered on Kovddoskaisi fell, and a few plants have also been observed growing on the Pikku-Malla fell. There is however no current information on these known growing areas, so information from botanists out rambling across the hills about their observations would be a welcome addition to what we already know about the development and current situation of the flora. Finland’s alpine fleabane are an extension of Norway’s strong population, and seeds floating from across the border could establish new growing areas in suitable places.

Alpine fleabane differs from other fleabanes that grow on the Lappish fells already with regards to size: it is roughly one handspan tall, no less than twice as large as arctic alpine fleabane (E. humilis) and one-flowered fleabane (E. uniflorus). Its capitula also lack intermediate florets, which differentiates it especially from one-flowered fleabane. Along with the many subspecies of blue fleabane, shining fleabane (E. acris spp. politus), which often grows alongside it in tundra, has many capitula and is thus easy to differentiate.

Arctic Alpine Fleabane

Erigeron humilis

Arctic Alpine Fleabane is classified as near threatened. It grows in same places as Alpine fleabane. When young its ray florets are white, later dark purple. Arctic Alpine fleabane is clearly smaller (2–10 cm) and more hairy than Alpine fleabane or one-flowered fleabane. (Erigeron uniflorus). Also Arctic Alpine fleabane is a calciphile.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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