Anaphalis margaritacea (L.) Benth. & Hook.

Anaphalis margaritacea plant

Family - Asteraceae

Habit - Rhizomatous perennial forb, incompletely dioecious.

Stems - Erect, to 80 cm, densely wooly.

Anaphalis margaritacea stem

Leaves - Basal leaves usually absent at flowering, not noticeably larger than the lower stem leaves. Stem leaves numerous, sessile, 2-12 cm long, linear to elliptic-lanceolate, bluntly to sharply pointed at the tip, sometimes slightly expanded and clasping at the base, the margins entire and sometimes curled under, both surfaces densely white-woolly, the upper surface sometimes becoming nearly glabrous with age.

Anaphalis margaritacea leavesStem and leaves.

Inflorescence - Inflorescences rounded to more or less flat-topped, often relatively dense panicles, the individual heads mostly short-stalked.

Anaphalis margaritacea inflorescenceInflorescence.

Anaphalis margaritacea inflorescence2

Heads - Heads all staminate or mostly pistillate, the pistillate heads usually with 2-4 staminate central florets. Involucre 5-8 mm long, broadly ovoid to cup-shaped, the bracts in 7-12 overlapping series, mostly loosely appressed when young, spreading with age, mostly bluntly pointed at the tip, woolly at the base, bright white, showy, usually slightly shiny. Receptacle nearly flat, naked.

Ray florets - Absent.

Disk florets - Corollas 3.5-4.5 mm long, yellow to greenish yellow. Pappus of numerous capillary bristles, these free and shed individually, minutely toothed.

Anaphalis margaritacea flowersFlorets.

Fruits - Achenes 0.7-1.0 mm long, narrowly ellipsoid-obovoid, strongly flattened, the surface appearing pebbled or roughened with minute papillae, brown to olive brown.

Flowering - July - September.

Habitat - Cultivated.

Origin - Native to U.S. but probably not Missouri.

Other info. - This distinctive and showy species is very common in western and northeastern regions of the U.S., but is rare in most of the Midwest and Plains states. It Missouri it has been collected only twice, and not since 1958. These were probably remnants from cultivation, since the plant is a popular ornamental. This is an easy species to identify. The distinctive papery-white involucre bracts are the showiest parts of the plant.

A margaritacea is a popular garden plant and is attractive in dried flower arrangements. It was also used medicinally by natives to treat a variety of ailments. A tea of the plant was used to treat colds, coughs, and infections. The leaves were also smoked for throat and lung troubles. It was also used in religious ceremonies.

Photographs taken in Marquette, MI., 9-3-03 (DETenaglia); also roadsides in Linn County, OR, 8-28-2012, and Teton County, WY, 8-30-2012; and in Larimer County, CO, 7-29-2017 (SRTurner).


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