Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
In the wild, Robin’s plantain (Erigeron pulchellus) is found over much of eastern North America. Often seen in rocky, wooded places, it is equally at home in fields and roadsides. Its small, daisy-like flowers are mostly white.
This selection, ‘Lynnhaven’, has a dense coating of tiny hairs over the foliage, giving the plant a slightly gray appearance and the flowers, which are opening now on tall fuzzy stalks, are larger and have a slight hint of lilac.
Completely happy in poor and dry soils, it can also tolerate full sun or part shade and moist conditions. It spreads by underground stolons (shoot-like roots) and quickly forms a weed-suppressing thick mat—a far more attractive ground cover than a load of mulch!
There are some large patches of this excellent, native ground cover plant under the linden tree in front of Wave Hill House.
I selected it as Plant of the Week back in early April 2017, and have returned to it this week in honor of National Wildflower Week. Although not a true wildflower, because it is a selection or cultivar (a cultivated variety), Robin’s plantain is a fine garden plant, originating from the wild.