Plantain-Leaf Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolis)
This native perennial plant grows up to 1 foot tall, but more commonly 1/2 foot or less. It consists of a rosette of basal leaves, which sometimes produces an inflorescence on a short stalk during the spring. The
basal leaves are up to 2 inches long and 1/2 inch across; they are oblanceolate, with smooth margins. There is a single prominent vein on the upper surface of each basal leaf, while the lower surface is white and hairy. There are small alternate leaves along the pubescent flowering stalk; they are narrowly lanceolate or linear. At the top of each stalk, a plant produces a few flowerheads about 1/3 inch long that are either staminate or pistillate. These flowerheads resemble compact tufts of white hair. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring and lasts about 3 weeks. There is no noticeable floral scent. The flowerheads are quickly replaced by achenes with small tufts of white hair and have small alternate leaves that are narrowly lanceolate or linear. These stolons develop plantlets that root in the ground, and resemble the mother plant. The root system consists of a central taproot. This plant often forms small colonies.
Family: Compositae (Composite family)
Other Names: Pussytoes, Lady’s Tobacco, Plantain Pussytoes, Women’s Tobacco
Flowers: April – June
Parts Used: Leaves and flowers
Habitat: Dry woods, pastures, and fields throughout eastern North America.
Cultivation: They prefer partial or full sun, and close to dry conditions. This plant flourishes in soil that is rocky or contains clay; it also grows readily in fertile loam. Most of the growth and development occurs during the spring, before pests and disease become troublesome.
Leaves and flowers (chewed or in tea) traditionally used for sore throats, pneumonia, colds, fevers, upset stomach, abdominal cramps, asthma, flu, coughs, rheumatism, leukorrhea, bowel disorders, mouth ulcers, hemorrhage, tumors. Also used as a mild nerve sedative, diuretic, and antispasmodic. The fresh juice was considered aphrodisiac.