This is a pretty plant, from six to twelve inches high, with a rather weak stem and conspicuous leaves, which are alternate, pale green, soft and downy, or hairy, with five or seven divisions, prettily lobed and cut, with rather prominent veins, and long, succulent, pinkish leafstalks, sheathing the stem. The flowers are rather small, with short pedicels, and a number are crowded together in roundish clusters, about an inch across, with almost no flower-stalk. The calyx is covered with white hairs, the corolla is lilac or white, somewhat hairy on the outside, and the stamens and style are long and conspicuous, sticking out like cats' whiskers and giving a pretty feathery appearance to the whole cluster, which becomes in fruit a conspicuous, very fuzzy, round head, covered with bristly white hairs, making the children's quaint common name for this plant quite appropriate. It grows in rich soil, in mountain woods, and is one of the earliest spring flowers. It is sometimes called Bear's Cabbage, but this name is far fetched, both as regards bears and cabbages!
WATERLEAF FAMILY. Hydrophyllaceae.
There are several kinds of Eriodictyon, shrubs, with alternate, toothed, leathery, evergreen leaves, which are netted-veined, generally green and smooth on the upper side and whitish and downy on the under, with leaf-stalks; the flowers in coiled clusters; the corolla more or less funnel-form or salver-form, without appendages in the tube; the stamens and the two distinct styles not protruding; the capsule small, with few seeds. The name is from the Greek for "wool" and "net," in allusion to the netted wool on the under surface of the leaves.