Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Wildflower Wednesday: Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium


I am challenging you to say our Wildflower Wednesday star's name 5 times....very quickly! I could barely get three out before I was dropping consonants. Here's the phonetic spelling soo-doh-naf-FAY-lee-um ob-too-sih-FOH-lee-um in case you aren't familiar with it.

Here's the story of how it became our star.

It was a beautiful day, with a clear blue sky and bright late morning sun overhead. We were taking a walk on a road near a house we rented for the weekend in Ellijay, GA and had stopped to visit with a very friendly donkey. 

 

the very friendly donkey

Across from the fenced in donkey growing among a hodgepodge of weeds, grasses and pine tree seedlings were flowering plants that looked like they needed a second look. One plant caught my eye. The silvery stems, leaves and the unusual white, tubular clusters of flowers with a bit of yellow that were still in bloom stood out among the weeds. I recognized Rabbit tobacco immediately and wondered how many people passed by it and never realized what a cool wildflower it was. That's when I decided to make it the Wildflower Wednesday star.


Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium is  known by a variety of common names including, Cudweed, Fragrant Cudweed, Fragrant Rabbit Tobacco, Blunt leaved sweet tobacco and Sweet Everlasting. I've only known it as Rabbit Tobacco and was introduced to it a few years ago by a dear gardening friend who shared it on her blog. Although, it's native to Tennessee, I've never seen it available for sale locally, nor do I have it in my garden.

This sweet little composite family member supports American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) butterfly larvae and attracts bees, butterflies, pollinators and predatory insects. As my friend said in her Wildflower Wednesday post over a decade ago: " I just wish there was more of it! The American Painted Lady butterfly is said to favor it for egg laying, reason alone to have a field of it."

Rabbit tobacco growing in the 'weedy' roadside

Sweet Everlasting is a summer annual or biennial plant that's about 3 foot tall with narrow/elliptical silvery-green stems and leaves. The underside of the leaves, stems and base of bracts of this plant are covered with dense white woolly hairs that one source described as cottony. The silvery white makes a good impression even in the bright sun. The leaves and stems are aromatic when crushed. One source says the crushed leaves smell like maple syrup. I did not crush any leaves to test for fragrance since it was on private property! Oh, but, I wish I had!

 I liked its looks and ordered seeds when I got home. 

The Particulars

Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (formerly Gnaphalium obtusifolium)

Family: Asteracaeae

Common Name(s): Cudweed Fragrant Cudweed Fragrant Rabbit Tobacco Rabbit Tobacco Sweet Everlasting

Life Cycle: Annual and biennial

Range: Alberta east to Nova Scotia, south to Florida, west to Texas, and north to Nebraska and Minnesota. 


 Cultivation: Woodlands, coastal dunes, sandy pinelands, roadsides, and disturbed area. Needs some sand in soil to drain well.

Maintenance: Low, although, it doesn't like wet roots

Light: Full sun, partial Shade

Soil Drainage: Good Drainage appears to be a must.

Plant: 12 inches-3 feet

Flower Color: White with a touch of yellow

Inflorescence: Corymb, Panicle The flower head has disk flowers only.

Fragrant: Flowers and leaves when crushed

Bloom Time: Summer into fall

Flower Shape: Tubular (photo source)


 

Flower Description: Branching panicle of corymbs of yellow or brown buds that emerge to white tubular flower heads on 1-2 ft. stem. Flowers are 1/4" 

Propagation: Self seeding, wind born seeds. Seeds need light to germinate.

with long tailed skipper (source)

Wildlife Value: Supports American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) larvae.  Visited by short-tongued bees, wasps, butterflies, skippers and flies for nectar. Wild turkey eat the foliage and deer browse the foliage. (source)

Comments: With fabulous wildlife value, Rabbit tobacco is a good addition to a pollinator or butterfly garden. It is also a wonderful plant for a naturalistic planting and to enhance your native plant/wildlife friendly habitat. The unusual flowers and silvery leaves and stems are especially attractive in winter because they stay standing until the following spring. Ethnologists have documented the use of Rabbit Tobacco for treating asthma among the Rappahannock, Eastern Cherokee and other Native American groups. (source)

It's time for Cudweed, Fragrant Cudweed, Fragrant Rabbit Tobacco, Rabbit Tobacco, Sweet Everlasting or what ever it's called in your part of the gardening world to have the attention it deserves. It's time for this underappreciated native to shine. Should you want to add it to your garden you can order seeds from Prairie Moon Nursery.

Thank you for stopping by to meet our star!

xoxogail


Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not, and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave your link in comments section.

 

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

7 comments:

  1. Yeah, I can't say it. ;-) I've seen it, though, and glad to learn more about it. Thanks! Glad you had a nice time in Georgia. :)

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    Replies
    1. We really did. It was a much needed get away from it all.

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  2. You have the most fascinating stories to tell, stories that you find right by the roadside. Thank you!

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  3. Maybe some day you’ll find a way for it to live in your own garden!

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  4. I like our Gnaphs too. I have one that volunteers in my garden.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.