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Robin’s Plantain (Erigeron pulchellu): Grand Strand April 2024 Plant of the Month

Posted on by Tierney Rosenstock

Robin’s plantain (Erigeron pulchellu). Credit: Tierney Rosenstock

April Plant of the Month (POTM) is just coming into peak flowering at this time of year. It may be something most people over look or take for granted, but a species we should all appreciate. Robin’s plantain, Erigeron pulchellus, is a common little cutie and I’m excited to share it with you!

Robin’s plantain is short lived perennial that grows quite prolifically along road banks, moist slopes (in the more mountainous parts of the state), margins of trails, and even limestone bluffs according to the Flora of the Southeastern United States. In the home garden, it can be quite adaptable but grows best with at least a little shade (to break up that blistering southern sun) in well-drained, rocky or sandy soils with dry to medium moisture. In fact, Robin’s plantain grows poorly in rich soils high in organic matter. It reproduces mainly by seed and sends out stolons (similar to how strawberries spread) to establish new plants before the main plant dies. Plants have a rosette of basal leaves that hug the ground and the flowers are daisy-like but with very narrow almost needle-like ray flowers. The flowers sit on top of stalks that reach a height of 1-2 ft. 

The genus name Erigeron comes from the Greek eri meaning early, referring to the early flowering time, and geron translating to “old man” which may be in reference to the downy hairs all over the plant. The specific epithet pulchellus means “beautiful” in Latin.

The flowers of Robin’s plantain attract a suite of pollinators including various bees and butterflies. According to the Xerces Society, the flowers also attract beneficial predatory or parasitoid insects that prey upon garden pests. 

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