The genus Pseudognaphalium Kirpicznikov

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. Plants of the Pseudognaphalium genus are annuals, biennials, or perennials. They are sometimes aromatic. Their stems are woolly-tomentose. Their leaves are alternate, mostly cauline; their abaxial faces are white to gray and tomentose to velutinous; their adaxial faces are usually greenish to gray and glabrous or glabrescent or sometimes loosely arachnose. Their flower heads are disciform usually in glomerules in corymbiform or paniculiform arrays, and sometimes in terminal clusters. They have from 2 to 10 series of phyllaries that are whitish, rosy, tawny, or brownish. Their peripheral florets are pistillate, their inner florets are bisexual and less numerous than the peripheral florets. Their fruits are small cypselae with a readily falling pappus of around 10 barbellate bristles. Their number of chromosomes (n) is 7.

There are about 100 species in the genus, of which 21 are found in North America, but only two in Québec:

Species of the Pseudognaphalium are found worldwide but mostly in South America to North America, and mostly in temperate regions. The genus 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.


Some species of the Pseudognaphalium genus are used in popular phytotherapy and are called collectively with the vernacular name of vira vira, a name Mapudungun in origin; it means herb to get rid off sorrow.

Mapudungun (mapu means earth and dungun means to speak) is a language isolate spoken in central Chile and west central Argentina by the Mapuche (che means people) people. It is also known as Mapudungu, Araucanian (Araucano) (the name given to the Mapuche people by the Spanish, it sometimes has a negative connotation) and Mapuche. Its speakers number 440,000, with 400,000 in the Central Valley of Chile and 40,000 in the Argentinian region of Patagonia. Some 200,000 people use the language regularly.