This aster-like flower is a composite: the flower you observe is really a “composite” of many smaller flowers. The genus, Erigeron, includes scores of species, but I’ll take a chance and say that the one pictured here is Philadelphia fleabane, because of the way the leaves are wrapped around the hairy stems (clasping), the abundant number of tiny ray florets that make up the flower head (they look like white petals), and the early bloom time (around May 1st in Blacksburg).
I know it is considered by many to be a “native weed”, but just look how lovely it is on a sunny day! I love the way it unfurls from a tight pink fist into a spray of white and yellow sunshine! Compare this fleabane to a shorter, stouter one, Robin’s Plantain.
According to Minnesota Wildflowers:
“The leaves are somewhat variable. Around the base of the plant is a rosette of nearly spoon shaped leaves with rounded tips. Basal leaves have coarse rounded teeth at the tip end and are up to 6 inches long, alternately attached but crowded around the stem, and may wither away by flowering time.
As the leaves ascend the stem they become more widely spaced and the shape becomes more elliptical with a pointed tip and more pointed teeth. The base of these leaves clasps the stem. The stem leaves average about 4 inches long and about 1 inch wide. Leaves at the top of the plant near the flowers are much smaller, more heart shaped and toothless. All leaves are hairy. Stems are erect, multiple from the base, covered in spreading hairs, more sparsely hairy at the top of the plant.”