Howell’s pussytoes

(Antennaria howellii ssp. petaloidea)

Conservation Status


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  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Howell’s pussytoes (ssp. petaloidea) is an evergreen woolly wildflower. It occurs across North America but is most common in the United States from Maine to New Jersey west to Minnesota. It is not common in Minnesota. It is found in fields, pastures, woodland openings, and rock barrens. It grows under full sun in dry to moderately moist sandy soil.

Howell’s pussytoes (ssp. petaloidea) is an erect, 3 to 13¾ (8 to 35 cm) tall, perennial forb that rises on a rosette of basal leaves and a flowering stem from fibrous roots. It spreads by producing above ground runners (stolons). The stolons are densely woolly, slender, and 1½ to 3½ (4 to 9 cm) long. They are cord-like with few leaves. They root at the nodes, often forming colonies. The leaves along the stolons are similar to but smaller than the basal leaves.

Basal leaves are unstalked, to 1¾ (15 to 45 mm) long, sometimes longer, and 316 to ¾ (5 to 20 mm) wide. The leaf blades are inversely lance-shaped, spatula-shaped, or inversely egg-shaped. They are pointed or rounded at the tip and have an abrupt, short, sharp point at the tip (mucronate). There is usually just a single vein extending from the base to the tip. Sometimes there is also a pair of obscure partial veins that can best be seen on the underside. The lower surface is densely covered with white, short, matted or tangled, soft, woolly hairs. The upper surface is covered with gray woolly hairs but becomes hairless at maturity. The margins are untoothed. Basal leaves are often evergreen.

A flowering stem arises from the stolon of the previous year’s growth. The stem is erect, sparsely leafy, and densely covered with white woolly hairs. Stem leaves are much smaller than basal leaves. They are alternate, unstalked, linear, narrowly pointed at the tip, and to 1¾ (10 to 35 mm) long. There is a short, flat or inrolled, papery extension (flag) at the tip of all of the middle and upper leaves. The upper and lower surfaces are densely covered with white woolly hairs.

The inflorescence is a tight, round-topped cluster (corymb) of usually 4 to 10, sometimes more, narrow flower heads at the end of the stem. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. Male plants are very uncommon. When no male plants are present, fertilization of the ovule does not take place and only female plants are produced (parthenogenesis). This results in some populations being composed entirely of female plants.

The whorl of 3 to 6 or more bracts (involucre) subtending each flower head on male (staminate) plants is ¼ (6 to 6.5 mm) long. The involucre on female (pistillate) plants is ¼ to 716 (7 to 11 mm) long. The bracts of the involucre (phyllaries) are narrow, green or reddish at the base, and white or cream-colored at the tip. The outer bracts are loosely covered with woolly hairs. The flower heads have 20 to 100 white or pinkish, tubular disk florets and no ray florets. Staminate florets are (3 to 4 mm) long. Pistillate florets are to ¼ (4.0 to 6..5 mm) long or longer. Staminate plants have numerous columns of stamens protruding above the flower head.

The fruit is an elliptic to egg-shaped, 132 to 116 (0.8 to 1.7 mm) long, one-seeded capsule (cypsela). It is hairless and minutely bumpy (pappilate), and there is a tuft of hairs (pappus) at the tip. On staminate plants the pappus is (4 to 4.5 mm) long, on pistillate plants it is to ¼ (4.0 to 6.5mm) long or longer.




3 to 13¾ (8 to 35 cm)


Flower Color


White to pinkish


Similar Species


Canadian pussytoes (Antennaria howellii ssp. canadensis) basal leaves have just one vein, and are green and hairless on the upper side.

Howell’s pussytoes (Antennaria howellii ssp. neodioica) stolon leaves are almost as large as the basal leaves. The basal leaves have well-defined petioles. There is a flag at the tip of only the leaves near the inflorescence. The middle and upper leaves are not flagged.


Dry to moderate moisture. Fields, pastures, woodland openings, and rock barrens. Full sun. Sandy soil.




Mid-spring to early summer


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



4, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Asterales (sunflowers, bellflowers, fanflowers, and allies)  


Asteraceae (sunflowers, daisies, asters, and allies)  
  Subfamily Asteroideae  
  Supertribe Asterodae  
  Tribe Gnaphalieae (paper daisies)  
  Genus Antennaria (pussytoes)  
  Species Howell’s pussytoes (Antennaria howellii)  



Antennaria appendiculata

Antennaria concolor

Antennaria neglecta var. petaloidea

Antennaria neodioica ssp. petaloidea

Antennaria neodioica var. petaloidea

Antennaria pedicellata

Antennaria petaloidea

Antennaria petaloidea var. scariosa

Antennaria petaloidea var. subcorymbosa

Antennaria stenolepis


Common Names


Howell’s pussytoes

small pussytoes









A flat-topped or convex inflorescence in which the stalked flowers grow upward from various points on the main stem to approximately the same horizontal plane. The outer flowers open first.



A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded seed capsule, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed from the wall of the inferior ovary and also from other tissues derived from the receptacle or hypanthium, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.



A whorl of bracts beneath or surrounding a flower or flower cluster.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



Tipped with a short, sharp, abrupt point.



The small swelling of the stem from which one or more leaves, branches, or buds originate.



On plants: A tiny, rounded, nipple-like projection on the surface of a leaf or petal. On mushrooms: A small, raised, sharply pointed projection on the cap above the point of attachment with the stalk.



The modified calyx composed of awns, scales, bristles, or feather-like hairs in plants of the Asteraceae family.



On plants: The stalk of a leaf blade or a compound leaf that attaches it to the stem. On ants and wasps: The constricted first one or two segments of the rear part of the body.



An individual bract within the involucre of a plant in the Asteraceae family.



Referring to a flower that has a female reproductive organ (pistil) but does not have male reproductive organs (stamens).



Referring to a flower that has a male reproductive organs (stamens) but does not have a female reproductive organ (pistil).



An above-ground, creeping stem that grows along the ground and produces roots and sometimes new plants at its nodes. A runner.





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Created: 6/21/2022

Last Updated:

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