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Plant Description


Anaphalis margaritacea (L.) Benth. & Hook.f.

En: pearly everlasting
Fr: immortelle blanche, anaphale marguerite
Oj: waabigwan, baasibagak

Asteraceae (Daisy Family)

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Anaphalis margaritacea1 Anaphalis margaritacea2 Anaphalis margaritacea3 Anaphalis margaritacea4 Anaphalis margaritacea5 Anaphalis margaritacea6 Anaphalis margaritacea7 Anaphalis margaritacea8 Anaphalis margaritacea9 Anaphalis margaritacea10 Anaphalis margaritacea11 Anaphalis margaritacea12

General: An erect perennial, 1—9 dm [4—36 in.] tall, arising from a slender rhizome. Stems are single or few-branched below the flowering head and have a dense woolly coating of long white hairs.

Leaves: Young plants have a loose basal rosette of hairy, oblanceolate, pale green to whitish leaves with blunt (obtuse) tips. Stem leaves are alternate, simple, sessile to slightly decurrent, and often numerous (15—66). Their blades are linear to narrowly lanceolate, 3—15 cm long by 0.3—2 cm wide, and spreading or attached at about right angles to the stem. Blades taper gradually to the base and narrowly-pointed (acuminate) apex, margins are generally entire to slightly revolute. Leaf surfaces are white and woolly beneath with a dense coat of tangled white hairs; green to whitish above with a thin layer of white hairs, often becoming smooth (glabrous) with maturity. The midrib is prominent on the lower surface.

Flowers: All plants in the Aster Family have flowers arranged in inflorescences called heads, which are composed of few to many small flowers attached to a base covered with overlapping rows of bracts (phyllaries), collectively called an involucre. Different genera within the Aster Family have heads with flowers of one or two types: disc flowers with tubular corollas, and/or ray flowers with flat strap-like corollas that are often mistaken for single petals. When both ray and disc flowers occur in the same head, as in a typical daisy, ray flowers are arranged around the margin of the head, with disc flowers in the centre. Pearly everlasting has several ovoid heads arranged in terminal branched clusters. Each head is 5—7 mm long by 6—8 mm wide, and composed entirely of disk flowers; ray flowers are lacking. Individual disc flowers are small and unisexual, with a tubular yellow corolla; female flowers arranged around the central male flowers; the involucre is composed of numerous overlapping papery-white ovate bracts (phyllaries). Flowers bloom in late summer.

Fruit: Very small achenes, 0.5—1 mm long, ellipsoid, with a single seed inside. Each fruit bears several short stiff hairs on the surface and is topped by several long white bristles, about 4 mm long, which aid in wind dispersal.

Habitat and Range: Dry soils in open woods, fields, clearings, and along roadsides and paths. Pearly everlasting is found throughout the Algoma District and Ontario.

Similar Species: Pearly everlasting is most similar to species of cudweed or rabbit-tobacco (Pseudognaphalium spp.), which have bisexual flowers in more open clusters and narrower heads with white to creamy-white or yellowish bracts. The woolly white leaves of pearly everlasting are also similar, but much narrower, than those of white sage (Artemisia ludoviciana Nutt.), also known as silver wormwood, a prairie species whose leaves are used in smudging.

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