Antennaria neglecta (Field Pussytoes)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Antennaria
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry fields, prairies, savannas, open woods
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:4 to 16 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: UPL NCNE: UPL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: flat Cluster type: round

[photo of female flowers] Two to 8 flower heads in a flat to rounded cluster at the top of the stem, with separate male and female flowers on separate plants. Female flower heads are about 3/8 inch long and look like little shaving brushes, with numerous thread-like styles at the top and the head surrounded by a series of bracts (called phyllaries), each phyllary green to reddish and firm (somewhat leaf-like) at the base and thin and white (more petal-like) at the tip. Individual flowers are 4.5 to 7 mm (to .28 inch) long and the set of phyllaries (called the involucre) is 6 to 10 mm (max 3/8 inch) long at maturity.

[photo of male flowers] The male flowers are less furry looking, in rounded heads with scaly white flowers that have a brown column of stamens protruding from the center. The involucre on male flower heads is 4 to 7 mm long with individual flowers 2.7 to 5 mm long.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of basal leaves] Leaves are basal and alternate. Basal leaves are ½ to 2½ inches long and up to ¾ inch wide, toothless, mostly narrowly spatula-shaped, rounded to pointed at the tip, gradually tapering to a stalkless base, and with a single prominent vein, seen on both the front and back of the leaf. The lower surface is silvery white from dense matted hairs, the upper surface gray-green, woolly hairy but may become hairless later in the season. Basal leaves tend to persist to the next season before shriveling up and disintegrating.

[photo of stem leaves] Stem leaves are linear, up to 1 inch long and about 1/8 inch wide, toothless, stalkless, woolly hairy, and widely spaced along the stem. At the tip of the mid and upper stem leaves is a short, papery appendage known as a “flag”. Stems are erect, green to reddish, covered in long, white, matted hairs. Horizontal, above ground stems (stolons) emerge from basal leaf clumps, spreading in all directions, rooting at the nodes and forming colonies. Leaves along the stolons are smaller than those in basal clumps. Colonies of male plants tend to be separate from females but are usually close by.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a brown seed .9 to 1.4 mm long with a tuft of white hair (pappus) attached to carry it off in the wind. Hairs are 6 to 9 mm long.

Notes:

There are 6 species of Pussytoes in Minnesota and they are a tough group, but generally put into two categories: those with a single prominent vein on basal leaves (most easily seen on the back of a mature leaf), and those with 3 (or more) prominent veins. Note that early leaves even on some 1-veined species may have faint lateral veins which can make identification questionable, in which case examining any old basal leaves persisting from the previous season might help make a more confident determination. For the 1-veined species, noting whether males are present can be helpful to an ID, as is examination of the mid and upper stem leaves for a “flag” at the tip (see leaf photo above). Magnification may be required.

In Minnesota, the 1-veined species consist of Field Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta), Howell's Pussytoes (A. howellii), Small-leaved Pussytoes (A. parvifolia) and Tiny-leaved Pussytoes (A. microphylla). Rosy Pussytoes (A. rosea) has also been reported as present in Minnesota but there are no official records of it. A. neglecta is most consistently distinguished by the combination of: the presence of flags at the tip of mid and upper stem leaves, basal leaves gray-green and woolly hairy on the upper surface at least through flowering time, phyllaries all white at the tip, and usually the presence of both male and female populations near each other.

Most similar is A. howellii, which has multiple subspecies that were once treated as vars of A. neglecta; it has mid and upper leaves not usually flagged, the upper surface of basal leaves is greener and hairless or (often) more thinly hairy than A. neglecta, phyllaries white to creamy yellowish at the tip, and males are rarely present (see A. howellii for further details). A. parvifolia plants are smaller, rarely taller than 4 inches, basal leaves are smaller (all less than 1½ inches long) and more silvery green from denser hairs, and males are very uncommon in Minnesota populations. A. microphylla has the smallest basal leaves of this group, the largest less than 2/3 inch (max 16 mm) long but most ½ inch or less. A. rosea is similar to A. parvifolia but has taller stems and phyllaries are often rosy pink.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Jana & Chris - Northfield, MN
on: 2011-05-16 07:33:56

Exploring a parcel of land we are purchasing; small colony of Field Pussytoes were located on high, dry island within wet meadow and bordering an affluent of Prairie Creek. Colony size measured no greater than 2' x 2'. Other remnant prairie forbs and grasses also located. (Needs a good burn!) :)

Posted by: Ann - Todd County
on: 2011-05-25 21:33:27

We have a large colony of this in our horse pasture, maybe two acres in size.

Posted by: Jon - Banning State Park
on: 2011-10-16 08:30:34

Found many along the bluffs of the river where there was sunlight most of the day.

Posted by: Sarah - Silverwood Park
on: 2012-05-11 19:12:47

Found by my daughter in an oak savanna understory 5/11/2012.

Posted by: Stephanie - Anoka County
on: 2013-07-13 16:34:28

Found in two places on my property. Both have moderate tree cover with filtered sunlight. One area is prairie type soil, and the other is carpet miss and pine needles. Each area approx. 10 ft by 10 ft.

Posted by: Nancy - Caponi Art Park, Eagan
on: 2014-05-16 12:42:45

Large natural planting on the hill above the snake sculpture.

Posted by: Gabriel - South Minneapolis
on: 2014-06-11 16:16:02

I found these growing in a lawn in St Paul and transplanted some to our property. They're now carpeting part of our hill in front. Their flowers are really cute, and they are great as a groundcover among other taller plants (whorled milkweed, penstemons, pasqueflower, and so on). Today I saw an American Painted Lady butterfly on the plants sticking her eggs onto the leaves. I looked for the eggs and found two. They're really tiny and hard to see. There are also leaves stuck together by silk; I wonder if this is another species at work.

Posted by: Barb - Albert Lea
on: 2015-05-07 08:13:46

Found a circle of Pussytoes growing in the middle of our yard. Cute little flowers. Looked them up in Wildflowers of MN field guide by Stan Tekiela. Info says the plant gives off chemicals that "poison" the soil for other plants. I don't want it to kill the grass that surrounds it. Should I dig it out? In the comments above no one mentions that it is exactly invasive.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-05-07 08:52:48

Barb, pussytoes mostly spread vegetatively but co-exist in the wild with other prairie plants rather nicely. In the end, it's all about competition. In a cultivated setting many native species may be a little more aggressive than in the wild, but this is usually manageable. I'd keep it myself, but keep an eye on it to avoid it spreading too far. Having said all that, we've seen many, many cases of a patch of pussytoes in the middle of someone's lawn. Most of these are not more than a couple feet in diameter. You can manage it.

Posted by: Barb - Abert Lea
on: 2015-05-07 10:19:09

Thank you. I will keep it where it is & watch it. Might also transplant some to our cabin area by Marcell, MN

Posted by: Mike - Little Swan
on: 2015-05-22 10:37:29

My dads lawn has become overtaken by pussytoes, any ideas on how to control or eradicate it? Preferably without chemicals

Posted by: Pamela - Oak Grove, Anoka County
on: 2015-06-09 22:04:17

corner of Cedar Creek Dr NW and Cty 9, just off the corner, on the right side as you drive up Cedar Creek there is a patch on the side of the road. I transplanted a tiny bit into a garden and it has taken off. I have noticed the patch off the road has grown a bit. Some neighbors down the road have it in their lawn, also. Nice to see it growing wild.

Posted by: Tamia - Sherburne County/Across from Refuge
on: 2015-06-16 15:32:30

I have several patches and plan on letting them grow. We are converting to a bee/butterfly/low maintenance yard and love the wild flowers.

Posted by: Todd - Pine river
on: 2016-05-13 13:41:16

My neighbors yard has been over taken by pussy toes and is now spreading to my yard. Does anyone know what will kill this plant.I don,t want this plant in my yard, would like to spray it, weeds Be gone does not work.

Posted by: Maria - Staples, MN
on: 2016-05-15 18:50:39

Several places in the yard. Under the oaks is a tightly bunched and almost round clump. Several other spots in the yard in sunnier areas more spead out circular patches. Had to laugh at the name when I found it!

Posted by: Dawn K - Littlefork, Koochiching County
on: 2017-05-10 20:37:02

Two patches, 2' and 6', bloomed around May 9, north- facing slope of riverbank, white blooms

Posted by: Robyn W - east side of Big Sand Lake, Park Rapids, Hubbard County
on: 2018-05-12 16:53:33

We have several patches in our lawn. I'd been introducing clover to the top of our hill, hoping to make the lawn more bee-friendly. Unfortunately, the pussytoes have killed off all of the clover and much of the grass. I want to eradicate the pussytoes. Any suggestions?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-05-12 18:38:05

Robyn, personally, I'd rather have the native pussytoes over the exotic clover or useless turf grass any day. It's a host plant for American painted lady butterflies, too.

Posted by: CarolAnn H - Burnsville & Vergas
on: 2018-05-20 06:24:37

I purchased some for my own yard and love them. They fill in beautifully right up to the edge of the driveway and the curb, despite the dry conditions of those locations. I've also seen them in open, dry spaces under pine trees in a resort in Vergas, MN. To answer Gabriel's question, the removal of the fuzz from the leaves is the work of the caterpillars, making a little home to protect themselves from the eyes of a predator looking for an easy meal. If you look closely at the fuzzy cocoons, you'll see the caterpillar in there.

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