Idaho Fleabane - Erigeron asperugineus
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Idaho fleabane is a regional endemic that has been documented from a few locations in Montana. It grows in alpine habitats, which tend to be relatively isolated from anthropogenic disturbance. Updated population data are needed for most occurrences and it is likely that a few additional occurrences will be documented.
Idaho Fleabane is a small perennial herb that is 2-20 cm tall. It has 1 to a few stems arising from a slender taproot. The basal leaves are up to 10 cm long, and have a broadly lance-shaped to nearly round blade and a long petiole. The few stem leaves are smaller and reduced upwards. The herbage is densely covered with short spreading hairs. The daisy-like, flowering heads are solitary (or, occasionally, there are 2) at the ends of the stalks. The involucral bracts are 5-9 mm long and covered with glands and spreading hairs. The 10-25 deep blue or violet rays that compose the petals of the flowering head are 5-10 mm long. The disk corollas in the center of the head are 4-6 mm long. The achenes have 20-30 bristles, forming a pappus, at their tops.
Flowering occurs in July-August.
There are many species of high-elevation, low-growing, taprooted Erigeron, and it is difficult to distinguish among them. Erigeron evermannii and E. leiomerus have glabrous leaves. Hair on the stems of E. tweedyi and E. tener is appressed rather than spreading outward. The larger leaves of E. caespitosus have three nerves, while those of E. asperugineus have only one. Leaves of E. radicatus, E. ochroleucus and E. rydbergii are nearly linear; the petiole not distinguishable from the blade.
Central ID, northeast NV, and southwest MT. Regional endemic.
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
The species typically grows on windswept, rocky or gravelly slopes and ridges in alpine zones, often on limestone-derived soils. Associates that have been documented at Montana sites include Agropyron spicatum (dominant with cushion plants at one locality), Haplopappus acaulis, Phlox mulitflora, Arenaria congesta, Erigeron compositus, Senecio canus, Bupleurum americanum and Antennaria umbrinella.
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
- Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
Erigeron asperugineus is a low-growing plant, easily shaded by taller plants. It always occurs in sparse vegetation. One collection (possibly misidentified) from the 1960's referred to its habitat as "overgrazed."
The alpine habitat of E. asperugineus is at low risk from anthropogenic disturbance; however there are very few recent records, so it is difficult to make inferences about its status.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.