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Pearly Everlasting

Anaphalis margaritacea

  • Name also: Western Pearly Everlasting
  • Family: Daisy Family – Compositae, subfamily Asteroideae
    (formerly Aster Family – Asteraceae)
  • Growing form: Perennial herb.
  • Height: 40–80 cm (15–35 in.). Stem rigidly erect, unbranched, light grey, downy.
  • Flower: Dioecious (male and female flowers on different individuals). Flowers form approx. 1 cm (0.4 in.) wide, single flower-like capitula surrounded by involucral bracts. Capitulum with no ray-florets, disk florets yellowish, tubular. Stamens 5. Gynoecium composed of 2 fused carpels. Involucral bracts overlap in several rows, tongue-like, completely membranous, pearl white, shiny. Capitula in a dense terminal corymb.
  • Leaves: Alternate, stalkless, short decurrent. Blade linear, narrowly elliptic–narrowly ovate, 3-veined, dark grey-green, becoming glabrous on top, underside light-coloured and consistently downy, with entire margins, margins curving downwards.
  • Fruit: Long, elliptic, slightly granular, brown, achene under 1 mm (0.04 in.) long, with unbranched hairs on tip.
  • Habitat: Yards, banks. Ornamental, sometimes left over from old gardens.
  • Flowering time: July–October.

Everlastings are relatives of Antennaria and Gnaphalium plants, which grow ferally in Finland. Pearly everlasting is native to North America and north-east Asia. In Finland it is quite a common feature in rockeries. It has adapted to barren and dry conditions, and its cut flowers last a long time in a vase. The capitulum’s involucral bracts are as hard as paper, which means that it makes a good dried flower. It also attracts butterflies and other insects that use nectar as a source of nutrition.

As a wild perennial, pearly everlasting doesn’t really need any care at all, and it’s undemanding with regards to habitat too. In old neglected and abandoned perennial flower-beds it holds its own against wild plants for a long time. Pearly everlasting spreads to a certain extent through runners and is feral in some places in southern Finland. The species is dioecious, meaning that seeds are only produced when male and female plants grow close to each other.

Of the other plants that grow in Finland that pearly everlasting could be confused with, it perhaps bears most resemblance to mountain everlasting (Antennaria dioica), which thrives in the same kind of sunny, dryish places. Pearly everlasting is however taller and has no basal rosette, while mountain everlasting has a distinct leaf rosette at its base.

Other species from the same family

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