Antennaria, named from the resemblance of the sterile pappus to the antennae of certain insects.
Perennial. Woolly herbs that appear as broad white patches of leaves carpeting dry fields, hillside pastures, and open woods in early spring. Newfoundland to Alaska, southward to North Carolina, Kansas, Nebraska. Abundant in northern Ohio. April, May.
Downy or woolly; the erect flowering stems six to eight inches high; leafy runners spread in all directions.
Silky, woolly when young, at length green above and silvery beneath; those of the flowering stems alternate, small, lanceolate; the basal leaves are obovate or oval, rather large, petioled, three-ribbed, white at first.
Composite, small, silky-haired, silvery white, borne in clusters at the summit of the stem; each small head has an involucre of greenish white bracts; florets all tubular, and the heads of two kinds; some bearing only pistillate florets, others only staminate florets, the two kinds usually in separate patches; involucre bracts of the pistillate florets are narrow and acute at apex, of the staminate florets obtuse at apex.
When the well known spring flowers are all in the race, two white-coated groups, brothers and sisters, may be found in many open, woodsy places, in rocky fields, or on gravelly knolls, holding their own and seen from afar. These are the staminate and pistillate plants of the Dwarf Everlasting, the spring Antennaria, which lift their stems and bear their flowers in April. These patches begin to appear in March, the leaves white and woolly as befits the season; later they become green and inconspicuous. As the plant is dioecious and spreads chiefly by offshoots and runners there is a tendency for each group to keep by itself.
Dwarf Everlasting. Antennaria plantaginifolia
These flowering heads differ in appearance: some are small and pointed, others larger and rather flat at the top. The smaller, which bear pistils only, are silvery white, the others are creamy white with brownish, orange-tipped stamens, which give a brownish color to the heads. After these heads have shed their pollen, which happens by the middle of May, they droop, the stems wither, and a general collapse sets in. Their work is done. The others, the pointed pistillate heads, wax strong, the stems grow high, keeping level with the grass and their heads take on a tinge of color. By June the seeds are mature and the plant becomes lost in the surrounding foliage.