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       Antennarias are very common plants of open and wooded terrain.  Their small sage-green leaves form mats, often many feet in diameter -- as shown in this fabulous mat forty feet long and twenty feet wide.

Antennaria mat

Antennaria in seed

    From the inch or two high mat of leaves grow flower stalks topped with a small, tight flower cluster.  Pussytoes female flowers mature and explode in a fluff (the pappus hairs) that disperses the seeds.  Dried male flowers remain on the plants for several months.

   The Antennaria genus is complex and plants are often difficult to identify because Antennaria hybridize and hybrids can produce seeds from unfertilized ovules.  Identification is also complicated because some colonies of plants have only male plants, some only female, and some have both.

    The common name, "Pussytoes", refers to the tightly packed flower headís resemblance (from the top) to a catís paw (from the bottom).

    "Antennaria" refers to antennae-like floral parts.

Antennaria corymbosa
Antennaria corymbosa (Flat-top Pussytoes)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Meadows. Spring, summer.
Ryman Creek Trail, May 18, 2006.

This Antennaria is common in montane meadows.  It has oblanceolate leaves, and a dark spot at the base of the phyllaries.  Leaves are quite hairy on both sides.

Aven Nelsen collected the first specimen of this plant in the 1890s.

"Corymbosa" means "many corymbs".

Antennaria corymbosa
Antennaria corymbosa (Flat-top Pussytoes)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Meadows. Spring, summer.
Ryman Creek Trail, May 18, 2006.

Early spring leaves and a new flower stalk grow quickly above the dry and dying leaves from last year.

Antennaria marginata

Antennaria marginata

Antennaria marginata (White-margined Pussytoes)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane.  Woodlands.  Spring, summer.
Shearer Creek Trail, May 17, 2006 and Vallecito Creek Trail, June 2, 2016.

The abundant white hairs from the bottom of the leaves show as a bright white margin around the usually glabrous light to dark green of the upper leaf surface. The leaf tip is commonly mucronate (having a short, abrupt, firm tip) and leaves most often fold inward. These two characteristics make the leaf shape appear to be elongated and narrow, but look at the basal leaves in the photographs and you will see that the leaves are actually broadest near their tip and narrowed to the base, and thus they are "spatulate" or "oblanceolate".

Either by rhizomes or stolons, the plants spread in broad, dense mats.

The plant is fairly common in Ponderosa and Pinyon woodlands.

Edward Greene named this species in 1898 from a specimen collected by Augustus Fendler in New Mexico in the mid-1840s.

Antennaria marginata
Antennaria marginata (White-margined Pussytoes)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane.  Woodlands.  Spring, summer.
Shearer Creek Trail, May 17, 2006.

Antennaria media
Antennaria media (Rocky Mountain Pussytoes)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Scree, openings. Summer.
Navajo Lake Trail, July 6, 2004.

This miniature is only two inches tall and does not usually grow more than about four inches tall. It has dark phyllaries, as the picture shows.  This is a young cluster of five plants. A. media, as most Antennaria, sends out underground branching roots to spread into large colonies and this colony is just starting.  I photographed this plant above tree-line on the rocky banks of Navajo Lake in the Lizard Head Wilderness.

Edward Greene named this species from a specimen he collected in California in 1901.  "Media" is Latin for "middle".

Antennaria parvifolia
Antennaria parvifolia (Small-leaf Pussytoes)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane. Meadows, rocky slopes. Summer.
Little Bear Pack Trail, June 6, 2014.

This is a common Antennaria in forest openings and rocky areas from about 5,000' to 9,500'. Flower heads are in clusters of 2-6+, stems grow to 15 cm, phyllaries are green at their base and white to pink at their tips, and pappus hairs are so long and silky that they often obscure the pistillate flowers (staminate plants are uncommon).

Famed collector and Harvard teacher, Thomas Nuttall, named and described this plant in 1841 from a collection he made "On the Black Hills and plains of the upper part of the Platte", in 1833.

Click for more A. parvifolia photographs.

Antennaria rosea
Antennaria rosea.  Synonym: Antennaria microphylla. (Red Pussytoes) 
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane.  Meadows, woodlands.  Summer.
Mesa Verde National Park, Prater Ridge Trail, June 3, 2004.

Red Pussytoes is very similar to the far more common white Pussytoes, having a light green, basal mat of leaves and short flower stalks with few leaves.

Antennaria rosea
Antennaria rosea.  Synonym: Antennaria microphylla. (Red Pussytoes) 
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane.  Meadows, woodlands.  Summer.
Mesa Verde National Park, Prater Ridge Trail, June 3, 2004.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Antennaria corymbosa

Range map for Antennaria marginata

Range map for Antennaria media

  Range map for Antennaria parvifolia

Range map for Antennaria parvifolia

Range map for Antennaria rosea