This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol5-6", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
The Cat's Foot is found at the present day in the North Temperate and Arctic Zones in Arctic Europe, N. and W. Asia, East and West North America, and so far this is all our knowledge of its age and dispersal. In Great Britain it is absent in North Devon and Somerset in the Peninsular province, but is found in N. Hants, Surrey, Herts, Berks, Oxford; throughout Anglia, except in E. Suffolk and Bedford; only in E. Gloucs, Stafford, Salop in the Severn province; while in N. Wales it does not occur in East Radnor, and in S. Wales not in Montgomery; and in the Trent province it is not found in Rutland, but in the Mersey province generally (though not in S.E. Yorks); in the Humber, Tyne, and Lakes provinces. In Scotland it is found in the Lowlands, but not in Selkirk or Linlithgow in East Lowlands; elsewhere it is found in every part of Scotland, ascending to 2000 ft.
The Cat's-foot is a local plant, found, however, on most sandy heaths in the counties north of the Thames, and throughout Scotland. It is also found on dry sandy pastures, as well as true heaths and moors. With it one may find Furze, Ling, Penny Royal, Creeping Willow, Small Bent Grass, etc.
The aerial stems are flowering stems, and erect and simple, the shoots are prostrate or procumbent, with inversely egg-shaped, spoon shaped, radical leaves which are dark-green, and smooth above, cottony below. The stem is woody, and the leaves are in dense tufts.
Photo. Dr. Somerville Hastings - Cat's-foot (Antennaria dioica, Gaertn.)
The flowerheads are male or female, the plant being dioecious, the different sexes being in separate involucres, or whorls of bracts, on separate plants. The first Latin name was given in allusion to the awns of the pappus (like Antennae). The flowerheads are pink. The inner scales of the involucre are blunt and coloured. The pappus hairs are silky.
Since it is a prostrate plant it is scarcely more than 3 in. high. Cat's-foot flowers in June and July. It is perennial, and multiplied by division.
The plant is dioecious, the flowers tubular, the female ones narrow and thread-like, the male tubular and dilated above. The anthers slightly project, and the style is simple. The flowers are adapted to cross-pollination if insects visit them.
The achenes are provided with a pappus, being 1-seriate, and adapted for wind dispersal.
Cat's-foot is addicted to a sand soil in which some humus occurs, and is partly a sand-lover or arenophilous, partly a humus-loving plant.
Neither fungal nor insect pests are known in connection with this rather uncommon plant.
The name Antennaria is from the Latin antenna, because the pappus hairs of the barren florets resemble the antennae of an insect. The second Latin name refers to its dioecious nature. It is called Cat's-ear, Cat's-foot, Moor Everlasting.
Essential Specific Characters: 153. Antennaria dioica, Gaertn. - Plant dioecious, stem prostrate, woody, with procumbent shoots, leaves tufted, radical leaves woolly below, spathulate, stem-leaves appressed, linear-lanceolate, flowerheads white or rose, in a corymb.