Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

QUERY: Mexican fleabane

Posted on by royvickery |

2014-05-28 16.35.31Mexican fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus) has been cultivated in the British Isles since 1836, and first recorded in the wild, in Guernsey, in 1860.  It is now well established in southwest England, where it forms extensive colonies on old walls and in similar habitats, especially near the sea.  It appears to be rapidly becoming more widespread, moving eastward, northward and inland, to the extent that a woman in Crewkerne, Somerset, in August 2018, declared ‘it grows everywhere’.*  When a plant spreads rapidly it often attracts a variety of local names.  Does anyone know any such names?  If you do, please contact


1.  David McClintock in The Wildflowers of Guernsey, 1975: 203, gives the name St Peter Port daisy and notes that Mexican fleabane was ‘specially Guernsey’s, for it was first recorded from the British Isles from St Peter Port having been known there since at least 1860, and being locally abundant already in the 1890s.’   Recent visitors to coastal areas in southwest England, where the plant invades all available old walls, will be interested in McClintock’s observation, ‘It has spread over much of the island for many years now, always on walls, which it decorates delightfully’ [RV].

2.  I usually call it Mexican daisy [Ian Bennallick, Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland’s Recorder for East Cornwall, St Wenn, Cornwall, September 2014].

3.  In their Flora of Cornwall, 1999: 296,  French, Murphy & Atkinson record ‘one of its [Mexican fleabane’s] local names is the Fowey daisy’ [Ian Bennallick, September 2014].

4.  We had a Botany meeting last night and I asked if anyone knew about Jersey names for Mexican fleabane … One member from an old Jersey family said her mum had always just called them wall daisies.  So it seems there are no old Jersey names, not surprising since it was first recorded in 1925.  The Jersey French name is mergots a pouochins [Anne Haden, BSBI Recorder for Jersey, September 2014].

5.  On sale as ‘fleabane daisy’ at Battersea Flower Station, Winders Road, London Borough of Wandsworth [RV, 19 September 2016].

6.  Several Cornish seaside towns have named it after themselves.  I heard it called Hayle daisy and Falmouth daisy, amongst others [Rob Large, 8 December 2017].

7. Sold as Spanish daisies by Hogweed Gardens, at the Lambeth Country Show, London, 21-22 July 2018.

8.  They are known as Miss Jekyll’s daisies in Somerset and Devon due to the amount she used in her garden design.  They grow in every crack in walls and pavements in Dawlish [Suzanne Jones, Dawlish, Devon, August 2023].

Image:  naturalised, Winchelsea, East Sussex; May 2014.

* In August 2019 a small plant was seen growing outside the viewing area of the Blavatnik Building (formerly the Switch House), the Tate Modern’s extension, opened in 2016.

Edited 9 August 2023.


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