Asteraceae: Sunflower Family – Gnaphalieae (Cudweed) Tribe – 2

The Sunflower family is a very large family with over 25,000 members.  Botanists subdivide the family into a number of tribes, of which 14 are represented in Monterey County.  Members of the Gnaphalieae or Cudweed Tribe lack ray flowers, and usually have tight heads with inconspicuous disk flowers only.  This page covers some of the smaller species.

Purple Cudweed – Gamochaeta ustulata

Blooms:

Apr–July

Plant Height:

10–40 cm

Flower Size:

Small cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry places

Notes:

This is one of the least-attractive members of an already undistinguished group of plants.  It has a terminal spike or cluster of small purplish flower heads. Leaves are hairy, spoon-shaped to oblanceolate, greenish and sparsely tomentose above, and densely white-tomentose below.  Photos #1 and 4 by Cliff Halverson.

Cudweed, Purple
Cudweed, Purple

Lowland Cudweed – Gnaphalium palustre

Blooms:

Mar–Oct

Plant Height:

10–20 cm

Flower Size:

Small cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Damp banks & streambeds

Notes:

Very low-growing, sometimes in profusion. The pale yellow flowers are in tight clusters at the stem tips and upper leaf axils, and subtended by greenish-gray, tomentose leaf-like bracts The whole plant is covered in woolly hairs.

Weedy Cudweed – Pseudognaphalium luteoalbum

Blooms:

Apr–Aug

Plant Height:

10–60 cm

Flower Size:

Small cluster

Origin:

Eurasia

Habitat:

Roadsides & disturbed places

Notes:

This common plant does full justice to its common name. Similar to Cotton Batting Plant (Pseudognaphalium stramineum, see below), but its stems are more slender, with upper leaves more widely spaced, and its disk flowers are often red-tipped. Phyllary tips are silver-gray to yellow or brown and translucent. Leaves may be tomentose on both surfaces or the upper surface may be more or less glabrous.

Cotton-batting Plant – Pseudognaphalium stramineum

Blooms:

Mar–Aug

Plant Height:

10–80 cm

Flower Size:

Small cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Many habitats incl. dunes, chaparral & roadsides

Notes:

Can be mistaken for Weedy Cudweed (Pseudognaphalium luteoalbum, see above), but the growth pattern of the plant tends to be more congested and the disk flowers are yellow. The leaves are crowded throughout, decurrent and consistently tomentose on both surface, often subtending or even surrounding the head. Phyllary tips are white, often aging yellowish, and translucent.