MOONSHINE COTTONWEED NONESOPRETTY





(Anaphalis margaritacea; Antennaria margaritacea of Gray)

Thistle family



Flower-heads - Numerous pearly-white scales of the involucre

holding tubular florets only; borne in broad, rather flat,

compound corymbs at the summit. Stem: Cottony, to 3 ft. high,

leafy to the top. Leaves: Upper ones small, narrow, linear; lower

ones broader, lance-shaped, rolled backward, more or less woolly

beneath.

Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, hillsides, open woods, uplands.

Flowering Season - July-September.

Distribution - North Carolina, Kansas, and California, far north.



When the small, white, overlapping scales of an everlasting's

oblong involucre expand stiff and straight, each pert little

flower-head resembles nothing so much as a miniature pond lily,

only what would be a lily's yellow stamens are in this case the

true flowers, which become brown in drying. It will be noticed

that these tiny florets, so well protected in the center, are of

two different kinds, separated on distinct heads: the female

florets with a tubular, five-cleft corolla, a two-cleft style,

and a copious pappus of hairy bristles; the staminate, or male,

florets more slender, the anthers tailed at the base.

Self-fertilization being, of course, impossible under such an

arrangement, the florets are absolutely dependent upon little

winged pollen carriers, whose sweet reward is well protected for

them from pilfering ants by the cottony substance on the wiry

stem, a device successfully employed by thistles also (q.v.).



An imaginary blossom that never fades has been the dream of poets

from Milton's day; but seeing one, who loves it? Our amaranth has

the aspect of an artificial flower - stiff, dry, soulless, quite

in keeping with the decorations on the average farmhouse

mantelpiece. Here it forms the most uncheering of winter

bouquets, or a wreath about flowers made from the lifeless hair

of some dear departed.



In open, rocky places, moist or dry, the CLAMMY EVERLASTING,

SWEET BALSAM, OR WINGED CUDWEED (Gnaphalium decurrens) prefers to

dwell. A wholesome fragrance, usually mingled with that of sweet

fern, pervades its neighborhood. Its yellowish-white little

flower-heads clustered at the top of an erect stem, and its pale

sage-green leaves, densely woolly beneath, the lower ones seeming

to run along the stem, need no further description: every one

knows the common everlasting. Its right to the Greek generic

name, meaning a lock of wool, no one will dispute. From

Pennsylvania and Arizona, north to Nova Scotia and British

Columbia, its amaranthine flowers are displayed from July to

September, the staminate and the pistillate heads on distinct

plants. Many insect visitors approach the flowers; some, like the

bees, are working for them in transferring pollen; others, like

the ants, which are trying to steal nectar, usually getting

killed on the sticky, cottony stem; and, hovering near, ever

conspicuous among the larger visitors, is the beautiful hunter's

butterfly (Pyrameis huntera), to be distinguished from its sister

the painted lady, always seen about thistles, by the two large

eye-like spots on the under side of the hind wings. What are

these butterflies doing about their chosen plants? Certainly the

minute florets of the everlasting offer no great inducements to a

creature that lives only on nectar. But that cocoon, compactly

woven with silk and petals, which hangs from the stem, tells the

story of the hunter's butterfly's presence. A brownish-drab

chrysalis, or a slate-colored and black-banded little caterpillar

with tufts of hairs on its back, and pretty red and white dots on

the dark stripes, shows our butterfly in the earlier stages of

its existence, when the everlastings form its staple diet.



When the hepatica, arbutus, saxifrage, and adder's tongue are

running for first place among the earliest spring flowers,

another modest little competitor joins the race - the DWARF

EVERLASTING (Antennaria plantaginifolia), also known as

PLANTAIN-LEAVED, MOUSE-EAR, SPRING or EARLY EVERLASTING, WHITE

PLANTAIN, PUSSY-TOES and LADIES' TOBACCO. From March to June, in

different parts of its wide range, rocky fields, hillsides, and

dry, open woods are whitened with broad patches of it, formed by

runners; the fertile plants from six to eighteen inches high; the

male plants, in distinct patches, smaller throughout. At the base

the tufted leaves, which are green on the upper side, but silvery

beneath, often woolly when young, are broadly oval or spatulate,

the upper leaves oblong to lance-shaped, seated on the woolly

stem. Charming little rosettes remain all winter, ready to send

up the first flowers displayed by the vast host of composites.

Several little heads of fertile florets, resembling tufts of

silvery-white silk, are set in pale-greenish cups in a broad

cluster at the top of the stem; the staminate florets in whiter

cups with more rounded scales. Small bees, chiefly those of the

Andrena and Halictus tribe, and many flies, attend to

transferring pollen. Our friend, the hunter's butterfly, also

hovers near. Range from Labrador to the Gulf of Mexico, westward

to Nebraska.





MONKEYFLOWER MOTH MULLEIN facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback