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Anaphalis margaritacea

Anaphalis margaritacea

Anaphalis margaritacea

Anaphalis margaritacea
Anaphalis margaritacea
Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly Everlasting)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Montane, subalpine. Meadows, openings, woodlands. Summer.
Above: Colorado Trail above Roaring Fork, August 20, 2017 & September  4, 2016 & September 6, 2017; Bolam Pass September 11, 2015.

Left: Colorado Trail above Roaring Fork, July 26, 2004.

At first glance one might mistake Pearly Everlasting for a species of Pussytoes (Antennaria), but a closer look will show that the flower stems are much longer and the flower heads are broader. Pearly Everlasting also lacks the basal mat of leaves that so commonly define Antennaria.,

Anaphalis margaritacea spreads by rhizomes and, as the above photographs show, small to very large solid patches of the plant are the result.  The light green leaves and stems are quite diagnostic and they are topped by bright pearly white buds and then yellow flowers, that are encased in white bracts.

Even when dry, Pearly Everlasting flowers almost appear to be fresh and new -- thus the common name. Look for Pearly Everlasting in high mountain meadows bordering woodlands.  The characteristic light green leaves at a 45 degree angle to the stem, and the tendency of the plant to grow in large patches make Pearly Everlasting easy to spot -- even from a distance.

Linnaeus named this plant Gnaphalium margaritaceum in 1753 from specimens collected in "N. America and Kamchatka". De Candolle and de Candolle named the Anaphalis genus in 1838 and Bentham and Hooker renamed our species Anaphalis margaritacea in 1873. "Anaphalis" is from a Greek name for a similar plant and "margaritacea" is Latin for "pearl".

Anaphalis margaritacea

Anaphalis margaritacea

Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly Everlasting)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Montane, subalpine. Meadows, openings, woodlands. Summer.
Horse Creek Trail, August 31, 2005.

Pearly Everlasting has small, tubular, disk flowers which are yellow to cream-yellow.  The bracts covering the flowers are pearly white and when they unfold, the flowers emerge. 

Pearly Everlasting has only disk flowers. What appear to be ray flowers are just the white bracts, the "phyllaries".

The disk flowers are almost always unisexual, i.e., imperfect.

Flower heads have peripheral flowers and inner flowers.

The peripheral flowers are almost always predominantly pistillate. Sometimes, however, peripheral flowers are mostly staminate with just a few pistillate flowers. 

Inner flowers are staminate.

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

Anaphalis margaritacea

Range map for Anaphalis margaritacea