Common fleabane is, well…common. Here in southwestern Ohio, the plant is both widespread and prevalent. No matter where you live, you don't have to look far to find a clump or two. Which doesn't mean common fleabane isn't worth searching out and examining.
I suppose the appellation fleabane doesn't help, though most folks merely give it a passing glance and immediately relegate the plant to being "one of those boring white, daisy-like composites you find everywhere." More weed than wildflower. Asking the plant's name implies a degree of interest greater than is typically mustered. Most won't walk over and take a closer look. A shame, because I think the flowers are quite lovely.
One interesting note regarding these blooms…what many call the flowers are really flower clusters or heads. Common fleabane actually has two kinds of flowers—the tiny trumpet-like disc flowers which make the yellow center button, and the 100-150 long, single-petal ray flowers in white or pinkish-tinge.
Common fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus, is the earliest-blooming of the fleabanes hereabouts. They're also the first to fade and go to seed; many have already finished for the season. By contrast, the quite similar daisy fleabane will soon appear and continue blooming until frost.
The genus name, Erigeron, may come from the Greek, eri, meaning "early," and geron, "old man." This name, "early old man," would thus reflect the fact common fleabane ages quickly. Others claim the first part of Erigeron comes from the Greek erio, meaning "wooly," so you end up with "wooly old man," possibly referring to the rather fuzzy fruiting head. As to the various fleabanes having any effect when it comes to poisoning or repelling fleas, historical nomenclature aside, there's no evidence whatsoever the plant works on men or dogs.
I always keep a few clumps of common fleabane growing around the house. The other day, a visitor gushed about their beauty. "Yes," I replied, "you could say they're uncommonly pretty."