Antennaria is Latin for antenna, or ship’s yard arm, referring to bristle-like hairs on the flowers, and plantaginifolia is Latin for leaves similar to plantain.
Charming low-growing, spreading, small-area groundcover in sunny rock gardens and dry meadows. Tolerates drought and poor, rocky, acidic soil. Seed heads may be removed for neatness. Flowers are long-lived and effective as dried flowers.
A perennial herb, forming low-growing colonies in dry open woodlands, meadows, rocky areas, preferring sun to part-shade. Flower-clusters suggest a cat’s paw appearance. Several similar-appearing North American wildflowers also have the common name Lady’s or Women’s tobacco, but no cited references mention a tobacco-like use.
Leaves and Stems
Simple, basal, alternate, up to 2-inch long toothless leaves, which grow from single, erect, wooly green-gray to reddish stems, each bearing a flower cluster. Leaf under-surface shows 3 to 5 veins, and is silvery white, due to dense, matted hairs, while the upper leaf surface is grayer-green. Total plant height is typically under 12 inches. Leaves typically last through autumn; in warmer climates considered evergreen. We have found this plant to be evergreen at Native Gardens of Blue Hill.
Appear at tip of stalks as a 1/4-inch single cluster of four to 17+ white, hairy-appearing (due to bristle-like stamen or pistils), ray-less blooms typically in April-June. Flowers can be 6"-12" above the foliage. Male and female flowers are on separate stalks, with female showier and pink-tinged. In some related species, male flowers are absent, and female flowers produce seed without pollination.
A tiny brown seed (<0.04 inches long), with a short (0.12 inch) tuft of white hair (pappus) attached to carry it off.
Host plant to butterfly larvae, such as Vanessa virginiensis (Painted Lady Butterfly). Some sources say winter deer browse; others say that, due to poisonous qualities, this plant is safe from rabbits and deer.
Spreads by rhizomes/runners; easily divided. Sources say that seeds are difficult to germinate and slow to grow but this plant self-seeds in the Native Garden.
Library Garden (see garden map)
Plant Profile by Kate O'Dell