Male flower

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Mountain Everlasting

Antennaria dioica

  • Name also: Cat’s-foot, Catsfoot, Cudweed, Stoloniferous Pussytoes (USA)
  • Family: Daisy Family – Compositae, subfamily Asteroideae
    (formerly Aster Family – Asteraceae)
  • Growing form: Perennial herb.
  • Height: 5–30 cm (2–12 in.). Stem branchless, densely haired. With runners, forms mat-like stands.
  • Flower: Plant dioecious (male and female flowers on different plants). Single flower-like capitula surrounded by involucral bracts. Capitula’s ray-florets lacking; disc florets usually white (male shoots) or pink (female shoots), tubular. Stamens 5. Pistil of 2 fused carpels. Involucral bracts overlapping, base usually yellowish brown, tip membranous, elliptic–round, white (usu. male) or pink (usu. female). Capitula 2–8 borne in a dense globose or compact corymbose cluster, pedicels short and hairy. Capitula borne in a small, dense corymb.
  • Leaves: In basal rosette and alternate on stem. Rosette leaf blades obovate, with rounded and usually sharp points, underside densely white-haired, top quite glabrous–densely haired. Stem leaves 6–10, blade narrowly lanceolate, felted, upper leaves with short bristle.
  • Fruit: Elliptic, greyish brown achene, tip with unbranched hairs.
  • Habitat: Forest heaths, rocky outcrops, meadows, dry meadows, pastures, banks, fell tundra.
  • Flowering time: (May–)June–July.
  • Endangerment: Near threatened.

Mountain everlasting is a xerophyte, it thrives in dry places, where evaporation often has to be controlled. It has adapted very well to its harsh environment: tomentums on its leaves reduces evaporation and in dry weather the leaf blade bends in channels to protect it from excessive exposure to the sun. Its furry and hairy capitula are likes cats’ paws, which has given the plant its Finnish name. The inflorescence are characterised by their involucral bracts, which are enlarged at their tips, and above all the basal down on its narrow flowers. Mountain everlasting is dioecious, as can be deduced from its scientific specific name. The inflorescence can be in two colours, mainly according to gender: pink capitula contain only pistillate flowers and those dominated by white are staminate flowers. Mountain everlasting produces seeds and also grows shoots from its creeping rhizome. These take root and form leaf rosettes, which produce flowering stems the following year.

Mountain everlasting has become rarer in Finland, especially in the south of the country. It has been suggested that this is due to global warming and the increase of nitrogen and ozone in the atmosphere – and a decrease in the amount of dry banks and other open habitats. It is hard to pick out the main reason from numerous environmental changes. Mountain everlasting is not endangered, but it would be wise to keep a close eye on it. Nature clubs and associations can contribute valuable information, but every individual botanist’s observations help create a better picture. Mountain everlasting’s close relatives are true Lapland fell plants, but they are rarer. Apart from woolly pussytoes (A. villifera), which has a very distinguished look, it isn’t easy to identify genus Antennaria, and it usually demands a close look at the detail of the involucral bracts.

Other species from the same genus
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