This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol3", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
1819: 143. 1819. [Filago L. Gen. Pl. Ed. 5- 1758. Not Sp. Pl. 927. 1753.] White-woolly herbs, closely resembling those of the preceding genus, with alternate, entire leaves, and small discoid glomerate heads, often subtended by leafy bracts, the clusters proliferous in our species. Involucre small, its bracts scarious, imbricated in several series, the outer usually tomentose. Receptacle subulate, cylindric or obconic, chaffy, each chaffy scale near its base enclosing an achene. Outermost flowers pistillate, fertile, with filiform corollas and no pappus, or the pappus a few rudimentary bristles; inner flowers also pistillate and fertile, but with a pappus of capillary scabrous bristles; central,(uppermost) flowers few, perfect, their corollas tubular, their pappus capillary and scabrous. Anthers sagittate at the base. Achenes terete or slightly compressed. [Anagram of Filago.]
About 10 species, natives of warm and temperate regions, the following typical. In addition to the following, 3 Californian species are probably to be referred to this genus.
Gnaphalium germanicum L. Sp. Pl. 857. 1753.
Filago germanica L. Sp. Pl. Ed. 2, 1311. 1763.
Gifola germanica Dumort. Fl. Belg. 68. 1827.
Annual, erect, cottony, 4-18' high, simple, or branched at the base, very leafy. Leaves sessile, lanceolate, linear, or slightly spatulate, erect or ascending, obtuse or acutish, 3"-12" long; stem terminated by a sessile dense cluster of heads, usually subtended by several leafy branches terminated by similar clusters and these often again proliferous; heads 12-30 in each cluster, many-flowered; involucre ovoid, light yellow, its bracts mainly acute.
In dry fields, southern New York and New Jersey to Pennsylvania, West Virginia and North Carolina. Old names downweed, hoarwort, owl's-crown, chafeweed, childing cudweed. May-Sept.