Trailing Fleabane is common here in the Sandia and Manzano mountains of New Mexico and common in Western North America.
It is a delicate plant and I have seen it listed as both biennial or perennial. I thought mine were perennial, they seem to come back in the same spots, and increase.
You might notice that this little heathen came up in the middle of one of my older pathways. I did not weed it out because I will collect and dry Trailing Fleabane for its medicinal properties this year and I just step over it. I haven’t tried transplanting them yet. Something saved for rainy days. Trailing Fleabane, like many of its cousins, has been adopted into flowerbeds. This one is about 10 inches tall and stays neat enough you will hope it seeds out in your flowerbed. It isn’t aggressive enough to crowd others out.
My particular interest in Trailing Fleabane is its use in a cold infusion as a disinfectant. Also as a poultice to stop bleeding, something like a Market Economy styptic pencil. I normally don’t bleed much with a cut, and usually force bleeding to clean wounds, but a nice disinfectant is good to have around since I routinely get bumps and gouges and scratches. I haven’t bought Market Economy antibacterial potions for years, over 20? So many plants have anti fungal and microbial properties, I just use whatever is available. Trailing Fleabane is available!
By fall, I have quite a few dried plants for winter use. Dried Trailing Fleabane is steeped in hot water before topical use. More water if an antiseptic wash, barely wet for a poultice. Notice I said water, not alcohol. In my humble opinion, if you have to extract the antibacterial principle with alcohol, may as well just burn the wound out with alcohol. I am not a fan of treating my flesh like that if it isn’t necessary. It. Is. Not. Necessary. Amazing how much quicker wounds heal without adding alcohol or iodine trauma to the original wound. Save those potions for other purposes.
As my own experimental subject, I attest that I haven’t had an infection in decades. You know I get plenty of scratches, scrapes, and punctures in the garden and food forest.
I found one brief reference to the use of of Trailing Fleabane as a fiber plant, no information or instructions. One issue with native Southwest plants is the dearth of information! I looked up general information on preparing plant materials for fiber extraction and of the procedures I found, I guess retting is the likely process.
You might call it retching…
First you pull off the blooms, leaves, etc. Then you cover the stems with water and wait. I love easy. The bad news is that about a week later, you pull the intact fibers out of the wretched slimy stink of rotted soft parts. Wash well in water and voila! Fibers to spin. Have you ever forgotten to change the water in a vase of flowers? Un hunh. That’s the smell. But nobody asks you to muck around in the mess.
Not brute labor.
Let me think that one over. A spearmint leaf rubbed under your nose? Gas mask?
The good news is that before my time, many people did prepare, spin and weave fibers, and many used whatever was at hand. There are over 1000 plants in the United States alone that produce fibers that can be used to make textiles, twines, bedding, etc.
Sounds like an interesting project if you get past the retching part. After reading about extracting fibers, maybe keeping my Trailing Fleabane as a dried antibacterial medicine is the best way to go, it would be the sweet smelling route!