Antennaria parlinii Fernald

Plainleaf Pussytoes

Antennaria parlinii plant

Family - Asteraceae

Habit - Perennial, dioecious, colonial, fibrous-rooted forb, with leafy stolons.

Stems - To +20 cm tall, herbaceous, stoloniferous, with fibrous roots, dense lanate, simple, erect.

Leaves - Basal leaves petiolate. Petioles to 3-4 cm long. Blade to +4 cm long, +2 cm broad, tapering at base, entire, broadly elliptic, dense white lanate below, sparse lanate above and greenish, with 3 main veins(visible below). Cauline leaves sessile, linear to linear lanceolate, lanate below, very sparse lanate above, to 2 cm long, 5 mm broad, entire.

Antennaria parlinii leavesBasal leaves.

Antennaria parlinii basalsRosette in-situ.

Inflorescence - Flower heads in compact terminal clusters.

Involucre - To 5 mm tall(long), 3-5 mm in diameter, densely arachnoid pubescent. Phyllaries to 5 mm long, 1.2 mm broad, green with scarious margins and long scarious apex, glabrous internally, in 1-2 series, imbricate. Staminate involucre slightly more broad and short than pistillate.

Antennaria parlinii involucrePistillate involucre.

Ray flowers - Absent.

Disk flowers - Pistillate flowers - Corolla tube greenish, glabrous, 4.5 mm long. Style bifurcate, exserted, purplish at apex. Achenes cylindric, glandular pubescent, 1.6 mm long in flower. Pappus a single series of barbellate bristles. Bristles white, to 5-6 mm long. Receptacle conic, naked. Staminate flowers - Corolla tube greenish, glabrous, 2.5 mm long, expanded at apex for -2 mm, 5-lobed. Lobes acute, 0.6 mm long, often recurved. Stamens 5, adnate at base of corolla tube. Anthers exserted, brownish-purple, 2 mm long, connate around rudimentary style. The style slightly exserted beyond the anthers. Pappus of barbellate bristles in a single series, to 4 mm long. Receptacle conic, naked.

Antennaria parlinii pistillatePistillate flowers.

Antennaria parlinii staminate flowersStaminate flowers.

Fruits - Achenes 1.0-1.5 mm long, narrowly elliptic-obovoid, the surface appearing pebbled or roughened with minute papillae, brown.

Antennaria parlinii fruitsHeads in fruit.

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Acid soils of dry rocky ground, ravines, thickets, roadsides, ridges, prairies, glades.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This is a common little plant in Missouri, occurring throughout most of the state as well as most of the eastern U.S. It occurs most commonly in dry woodlands. In Missouri it is relatively easy to ID in the field, though farther west the genus becomes more difficult due to hybridization, polyploidy, and apomixis. Missouri's plants have been further subdivided into ssp. fallax and ssp. parlinii, with the distinction being based upon the nature of the basal leaf pubescence. A previously used species name, plantaginifolia, means "leaves of Plantain" and indeed the basal leaves do look like those of the genus Plantago. The other Missouri representative of the genus, A. neglecta, differs in having narrower leaves with only a single midvein.

A. parlinii does well in gardens, thriving in dry, rocky conditions unsuitable to most other plants. Even though the plants are dioecious, the pistillate plants can still produce viable seed without fertilization from the staminate plants. Native Americans used the plant to treat gastrointestinal and gynecological complaints.

Photographs taken in the Piney Creek Wilderness, Barry County, MO., 4-5-04 (DETenaglia).