The genus Antennaria Gaertner

Remark The words or terms in red (actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a glossary.

jun_08_09.thmb can't be loaded. The genus Antennaria belongs to the Asteraceae family. Antennaria spp. are unusual in that they are dioecious, the male flowers being much rarer than the female ones; some species have no male flowers at all. The species reproduce then essentially by parthenogenesis, i.e. the seeds are produced by mitosis rather than by meiosis, making then exact genetic copies.

Taxonomy of the genus is difficult and therefore no unanimity of opinion exists with respect to the most suitable taxonomic treatment. Apomixis in the genus led to the formation of many distinct polyploid races or clones, many of which were named as species by turn of the 20th century, to the middle of the 20th century taxonomists. Unfortunately, many of these species were based on single collections from local populations that have never been recollected. Most recent workers on the genus have adopted a more conservative classification for this group.

Antennaria probably comprises 25 to 30 sexual diploid species and several large polyploid agamic complexes derived from them. Taxonomic differences are presumably due to the occurrence of polyploidy, apomixis and hybridization. In North America it has been suggested that Antennaria is comprised of six large polyploid complexes, namely:

the first two found mostly in eastern North America, the other four found mainly in western or arctic North America.

As far as Québec is concerned many botanists list the following species and subspecies as belonging to the flora of the province:

For the time being then, these pages will then not attempt to go to the species level. What is presented below is a general description of the genus, that should apply to most species. As for the photographs, they are used as an illustrations and no attempt was made to determine the species of the photographed plants presented in this page.


In Latin, antenna or antemna is a yard, a long spar, supported more or less at its center, to which the head of a sail (of a sailing boat) is bent. By analogy it became antenna, a metallic apparatus for sending or receiving electromagnetic waves, a radio antenna. a TV antenna, etc; in zoology, an antenna is “one of the paired, flexible, segmented sensory appendages on the head of an insect, myriapod, or crustacean functioning primarily as an organ of touch„.

jun_14_02.thmb can't be loaded. The genus name is then said to refer to the projecting stamens seen on some flowers that resemble insect antennae.

Common names

The genus common vernacular name is Pussytoes and some of the epithet for the species are : Pearly, Silver, Denseleaf, Littleleaf, Small-leaf, Showy, Narrowleaf, etc.


Antennaria are perennial herbaceous plants that can reach 16 inches in height.




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Throughout the cold temperate and arctic regions of the northern hemisphere. Especially common in the alpine zones of North America and Europe.


These plants have been used historically for coughs, colds, pulmonary inflammations, dysentery, bruises, as a post childbirth tonic for mothers, and of course to treat snakebite. There is no scientific evidence that it is effective for treating any of these conditions.


The photos of the gallery were taken either with one of the following: The title in the window shows the date when the picture was taken, i.e. jan_30_06... would mean that the photo was taken on the 30th of January, the 06 is for the 6th picture taken that day.

The month, day and picture number might be followed by a letter:

and if there is no letter it's obviously the Minolta.

Click on the thumbnails to get larger view. The original photos are usually in TIFF format, the photos shown are generally in JPEG format, usually of dimension one half (surface one quarter) for loading time reduction.

Early spring

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Flower heads

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