Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (L.) Hilliard. & Burtt.
The words or terms in red
(actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a
Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium is a summer
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 spp. obtusifolium
- Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium spp. praecox
- Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium spp. saxicola
Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium belongs to the
(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
genus because it includes annual, biannual or perennial herbs,
with oblong or
monochromous involucral bracts
as well as for having female florets more numerous than
disposed in two or more series.
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.
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
The French vernacular name is
Gnaphale à feuilles obtuses.
Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium has also been known as:
- Gnaphalium obtusifolium L.
- Gnaphalium polycephalum Michx.
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.
- White, ovate flowerheads,
pointed at the tip, white, and arranged in terminal clusters.
- Scaly flower bracts tinged with yellow.
- Woolly stem.
- Elongate leaves, almost grasslike.
Pseudognaphalium macounii is also very similar to
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.
- Up to 3 inches long and 1/3 inch across, becoming slowly smaller as
they ascend the stems.
- Smooth or minutely undulate
along their margins.
- The upper surface mostly hairless and dark green to yellowish green,
the lower surface whitish green and covered with appressed woolly hairs.
- With a prominent central vein.
- Often with a balsam-like fragrance.
- In a small corymb of 1 to 5
flowerheads at the end of the upper stems.
- White to cream-colored.
- About 1/4 inch long and about half as much across, becomes wider and'
more open as its fruits mature.
- Conical-oblongoid in shape with a
- With pale yellow to light brown numerous (up to a hundred)
disk florets, the innermost florets
are perfect (both staminate and
while the outer ones, in quite larger number, are pistillate only.
- With 4 to 6 series of overlapping
that are white or cream-colored,
to broadly oblong-lanceolate and with blunt tips.
- Blooming from late summer to early fall and lasting about a month.
- Pollinated primarily by
short-tongued bees (mainly Halictid), wasps, and flies looking
for the nectar.
- A smooth, dry cypsela.
- With a fluffy pappus.
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.
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
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
and is commonly thought to be
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
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
The leaves were scanned at 300 dpi,
this allows to measure the dimensions of the leaves.