Antennaria plantaginifolia

The more common pussytoes with spatula-shaped leaves

Antennaria plantaginifolia plantain-leaved pussytoes

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

This little native plant is easily overlooked. The plantain-leaved pussytoes is about 6-inch high and is widely distributed in dry woods, fields, rocky places and pastures throughout Eastern United States. Distribution, though, is spotty. It is, however documented in most of the counties of the state, except the north-western corner. It seems to prefer acidic soils, but otherwise does well in soils of poor quality where competition from other species may be less vigorous.

This species is a member of the large aster family and thus has composite flowers. It is named pussytoes because it has a flower cluster that resembles the pad on the underside of a cat's foot. The flowers consist of a 1/4 inch white inflorescence, sometimes tinged with pink. The flower has several disk florets but no ray florets and so do not resemble other asters very closely. Male and female flowers are found on different plants with male flowers generally growing on plants with shorter stalks. Female flowers tend to look fuzzy because of the abundance of flowers with pistils. Both types of flowers have green floral bracts beneath the flower head. Male flowers tend to be rare and female flowers can often produce fertile seeds without the benefit of pollen. Authorities disagree on the method of pollination—some say it is by wind and others by insects. There is no floral scent.

Blooming occurs April through June, depending on location. The seeds are small and have tufts of hair for wind distribution. There is a basal rosette of spoon-shaped, soft-green leaves that tend to be woolly below and sometimes on top. The leaves have 3-5 main veins. There are also several stem leaves.

Colonies sometimes form when the plant sends out horizontal stems called stolons. It is also known as woman's tobacco, everlasting, and mouse ear. It is sometimes grown in native plant gardens, though its need for precise soil conditions makes this tricky. The plaintain-leaved pussytoes is one of at least 6 related species of this highly variable plant found in northeastern and north-central United States that differ mostly in the form of the leaves and the number of veins in the leaves. Some botanists claim there are up to 32 species.

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Grows in dry woods, rocky soils, and field margins.

Present throughout the state, except the very north, and the north-west corner.

Range: Found throughout Eastern United States, distribution is spotty.

Wetland code: Not classified

Flowers April through June.

S-rank: No rank
G-rank:  G5 (Secure)

Antennaria plantaginifolia plantain-leaved pussytoes

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA
Antennaria plantaginifolia gallery
Plant Life-Form
perennial forb