Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (L.) Hilliard. & Burtt.

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

aug_29_02.gthmb can't be loaded. Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium is a summer annual or biennial plant that is erect and eventually becomes 3/4 to 2.5 feet tall. It is native to North America. Its root system is mostly fibrous. Some plants overwinter as a low rosette of leaves, while others complete their growth and development within a single year. After the rosette stage has passed, each plant has a central stem that is unbranched in the lower half, while short ascending branches develop in the upper half. The central and upper stems are whitish green to nearly white from the appressed woolly hairs that cover their surfaces.

Some botanists recognize three subspecies in the species:

and the subspecies obtusifolium would be the one found in Québec.

Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium belongs to the Asteraceae family.


In Greek, γναφαλιον (gnaphalion) is a plant described by Pedanius Dioscorides, (3,132), the Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist from Anazarbus (Cilicia, Asia Minor) who practised in ancient Rome during the time of Nero. He wrote one of the most influential herbal books in history, Materia medica, a book that remained in use until the Renaissance. The French name of the plant is cotonnière. a cottony plant; it is a plant that was used to fill up mattresses.

In Greek, ψευδησ (pseudês) means false, so that the genus name refers to a plant that is a bit like the Ganphalium but differs somewhat from it. For botanists, the Pseudognaphalium genus is distinguished from Gnaphalium genus because it includes annual, biannual or perennial herbs, with oblong or campanulate heads, monochromous involucral bracts as well as for having female florets more numerous than disc-florets, disposed in two or more series.

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In Latin, obtusus is and adjective that means dull, blunt, and folium means leave, the epithet referring to the rounded tip of the leaves of Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium.

Common names

Some of the vernacular names of Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium are Rabbit tobacco, Blunt-leaved Everlasting, Catsfoot, Common Everlasting, Fragrant Everlasting, Indian Posy, Life Everlasting, None-so-pretty, Old Field Balsam, Silver Leaf, Fragrant Cudweed, Catfoot, Eastern Rabbit-tobacco, Sweet Everlasting, Sweet-scented Life Everlasting and White Balsam. The French vernacular name is Gnaphale à feuilles obtuses.


Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium has also been known as:


Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium is identified by its: With its woolly foliage and flowerheads, Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium resemble the Antennaria spp. (Pussytoes) and Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly Everlasting), but is taller than the Antennaria and its truncate-conical flowerheads are more narrow than the button-like flowerheads of Anaphalis margaritacea. Furthermore the flowerheads of Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium lacks white, scalelike bracts of Anaphalis margaritacea.

Pseudognaphalium macounii is also very similar to Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium. Pseudognaphalium macounii is recognized by its wider decurrent leaves with bases clasping the stem; the leaves of Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium are sessile, but not decurrent, and the plant lacks the glandular hairs of Pseudognaphalium macounii. Furthermore, the flower heads of Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium are more elongate and pointed at the apex.

The distinctive color and form of Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium usually make it easy to spot, even in the dead of winter.


Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium has erect cottony stem that bear branched clusters of whitish-yellow round fragrant flower heads.


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Flower heads



Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium is found in dry soils. Its habitats include upland prairies, sand prairies, typical savannas and sandy savannas, fallow fields, and areas along railroads and roadsides, forest margins. Disturbed dry areas with scant vegetation are preferred.


map_na.jpg can't be loaded. Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium is found throughout eastern North America and the Plains States. Its range extends from the woodland regions of Canada south to Florida and west to the margins of the Plains. The map shows the Canadian provinces and USA states where the plant can be found.


There are many accounts of Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium being smoked in place of tobacco by Native Americans and settlers alike and the smoke held a spiritual or mystic power for many Indians. The Cheyenne dropped the leaves on hot coals and used the smoke to purify gifts to the spirits. Cheyenne warriors chewed the leaves and rubbed there body's with it to strengthen and protect them in battle. The Menomini used the smoke after a death to keep the ghost of a the dead from bringing nightmares and bad luck to the surviving family members. The Potawatomi and the Chippewa use the smoke to drive away spirits from from their dwellings. The Cherokees used it in sweat baths. It was also thought by many tribes that the smoke had a restorative power that could revive the unconscious or paralyzed.

Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium is astringent, antiphlogistic, diaphoretic, expectorant, and is commonly thought to be sedative, diuretic and a very mild pain reliever. Both the smoke and a leaf tea have been use to treat various throat and bronchial conditions from colds to asthma and especially for coughs. It is also used for diarrhea. Sores on the skin and in the mouth are poulticed with it as are bruises and it has been highly recommended for burns. The fresh juice is considered to be aphrodisiac.

The aromatic dried flowers are used as a filling for mattresses and pillows, having a sedative effect which is beneficial to consumptives. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. This has proved to be of benefit in the treatment of sciatica, lumbago and some forms of arthritis.


The photos of the gallery were taken either with one of the following: Minolta DiMAGE 7, Canon PowerShot A530, Canon Xt Rebel, usually with the EF-S60mm f/2.8 Macro USM objective, Fujifilm A 610 and EPSON Perfection 1650 (scanner). 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 which I use to identify the system used to take the picture.

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

Plants, roots, stems

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Flower heads

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