Pussy toes is a plant of poor soil, often acid, sterile soil where little else will grow. Here on the slopes and covering the cold clay, are the silvery-grey and dark green rosettes of leaves which remain throughout the year. The leaves are long and are tapered to the base, more abruptly to the tip. and are covered with long silky white hairs above and below. Since the underside of the leaves is pure white anyway, the effect is that of a grey-green leaf covered with white silk above and white flannel below.
Antennaria plantaginifolia (L.) Hook.
April. Dry hills, woods.
From the center of the rosette in very early spring there rise several white, silky stalks with alternate leaves and a cluster of soft white flowers at the top. The hairs of the flowers are so dense and the group so compact that one at once is reminded of the resemblance to a tiny kitten's paw. It is no wonder that children long ago, when they visited the woods in early spring in search of the earliest flowers, called this plant "pussy toes". It is a plant which named itself.
Pussy toes is a Composite, part of that complicated and highly efficient group of plants to which belong the sunflowers, the asters, the gold-enrods, the dandelions, and many more. Although most of them are huge and conspicuous, with yellow and purple predominating in their color scheme, a few, like the species of pussy toes, are small, compact, delicate, and part of the unique flora of a woods in spring. Unlike many of the earliest flowers, the plants of pussy toes remain above ground, dark grey-green now and white below, all through the dry summer, the colorful autumn, and the snows of winter, until spring shall come again.