Pussytoes

Antennaria

Pussytoes
Pussytoes

Antennaria:  This is a difficult genus, containing several species in our area. Since I’m not a botanist, I am going to stop at the genus level here and simply say that all the flowers on this page are members of the genus, Antennaria, or Pussytoes! Don’t you LOVE the name?

Soft and wooly, with white hairs on the leaves and the stems, the flower clusters of pussytoes sometimes resemble the paw print of a cat. The bulk of the plant’s leaves grow at ground-level in basal rosettes; it can form a nice ground cover in open, dry areas. The leaves are particularly hairy on the underside; the net result is a leaf that is darker in color on the top and whiter underneath. The general shape of the leaf is spatulate and the margins are smooth (or entire).

Although this is a member of the composite family, the flower head lacks ray flowers, leaving only the disk flowers to put on a show. This gives the inflorescence the general appearance of a “dried flower”. In fact, another name often used to describe this group of white-flowering plants is “everlasting”.

The genus name Antennaria is derived from the word antennae.  That is because some species have stamens that pop up above the flower –like insect antennae! You can see that clearly in some of the photos below.

The first set of photos were taken on May 10th at Pandapas Pond. It looks like there are two species represented at this location.

Click any photo for a larger view.

The pussytoes in the next group were photographed at Primland in Patrick County on May 4th. All the photos in this section represent the same species. If you know for sure what the species is, please drop me a line!

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