Plant of the day: California everlasting

Like dried flowers in a storebought display, California everlasting has crispy, white, straw-like petals. But actually these petals are bracts – you have to look close, and at the right time, to see the real (yellow) petals peeking through from the flower inside. When done flowering, the bracts open wide around a dandelion-like puff of seeds.

Pseudognaphalium californicum is a native that’s found in most parts of North America. It’s in the Asteraceae family, along with dandelion, chamomile, burdock and daisy. It dries out as nicely as its name suggests!

There are several similar-looking species to this one, including others in the Pseudognaphalium family.  But I first mistook this plant for the very similar lookalike: pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritaceae – thanks to Doreen for setting me straight!). I’m still trying to figure out a good way to tell the two apart – in the key, the main difference is that California everlasting has a taproot while the roots of pearly everlasting are fibrous. I think that the flowers of the first are either bisexual (a typical flower, with both male and female parts) or only female, while the latter has separate male and female flowers. But since they are in the aster family, with little teeny tiny flowers, this is a hard difference to spot.

Just from looking at the photos, it seems that California everlasting has a much sleeker, smoother look to the shape of the bracts, while pearly everlasting seems to have a spiky look to each flower head, with the many pointy tips of the bracts bent backwards a little bit.

I’ll offer more tips on how to tell these two apart, as I come up with them!

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6 Comments

Filed under Native, Plant of the day

6 responses to “Plant of the day: California everlasting

  1. Doreen smith

    This may be not be Anaphalis margaritacea but the look-alike California everlasting, Pseudognaphalium californicum

  2. where can i buy dried California everlasting to make into tea? I’m in Oakland, CA

    • I would check the yellow pages for an herbalist. I know there is a good one in Point Reyes (Garden of Eden) but there probably are several closer to you as well. Good luck!

  3. Louise Berto

    Hi! Just discovered your blog and LOVE it! If I wanted to send you an email under separate cover (not in comments), could you tell me your email address? Or is there a link in the blog somewhere that I haven’t seen yet? Thank you again!

    • Hi Louise,

      Thanks so much for your note! I’m glad you like the blog, it is SO much fun to do. I don’t like to put my email on here (fears of spam) but you can get it off the “contact me” page of my website: http://www.jacobacharles.com. Sorry it’s a bit roundabout, but hopefully you can get to me that way.

      Cheers,
      Jacoba

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