Sp. Pl. 2: 850. 1753.


Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 368. 1754.

Etymology: Greek gnaphalion, a downy plant, the name anciently applied to these or similar plants
Synonyms: Filaginella Opiz
Treatment appears in FNA Volume 19. Treatment on page 428. Mentioned on page 58, 384, 387, 429.

Annuals [biennials or perennials], (1–)3–30 cm; usually taprooted, sometimes fibrous-rooted. Stems usually 1, erect (often with decumbent-ascending branches from bases; ± woolly-tomentose, not glandular). Leaves mostly cauline; alternate; ± sessile; blades oblanceolate to spatulate or linear, bases ± cuneate, margins entire, faces concolor, gray and tomentose. Heads disciform, usually in ± capitate clusters (in axils of leaves or bracts), sometimes in spiciform glomerules. Involucres narrowly to broadly campanulate, 2.5–4 mm. Phyllaries in 3–5 series, usually white or tawny to brown (opaque or hyaline, often shiny; stereomes usually glandular distally), ± equal to unequal, chartaceous toward tips (inner phyllaries narrowly oblong, usually white-tipped and protruding distal to outer). Receptacles flat, smooth, epaleate. Peripheral (pistillate) florets 40–80 (more numerous than bisexual); corollas purplish or whitish. Inner (bisexual) florets 4–7; corollas purplish or whitish. Cypselae oblong, faces usually glabrous, sometimes minutely papillate (hairs ± papilliform, not myxogenic); pappi readily falling, of 8–12 distinct, barbellate bristles in 1 series. x = 7.


North America, Mexico, Central America, South America, Asia, Africa, Australia.


Species ca. 38 (3 in the flora).

Generic segregations have reduced Gnaphalium from hundreds of species to ca. 38. North American species (north of Mexico) not included here have been segregated to Euchiton, Gamochaeta, Omalotheca, and Pseudognaphalium. Species of Gnaphalium in the strict sense (adopted here) are usually ca. 3–30 cm, loosely tomentose and not glandular, and have loosely glomerulate heads, involucres 2–3(–4) mm diam., white-tipped inner phyllaries, papillate cypselae, and readily falling pappi of distinct bristles, features especially contrasting with Pseudognaphalium, to which most North American species have been transferred. Because of their relatively small stature and tendency to produce loosely spiciform arrays of heads, gnaphaliums sometimes are identified as gamochaetas, which have different cypselar vestitures and different pappi. The lectotype species of Gnaphalium is G. uliginosum Linnaeus; discussion of this choice rather than Pseudognaphalium (Gnaphalium) luteoalbum (Linnaeus) Hilliard & Burtt is given in C. Jeffrey (1979), O. M. Hilliard and B. L. Burtt (1981), and J. McNeill et al. (1987).

Gnaphalium polycaulon Persoon is included in the key because it probably will be found in warmer coastal localities in the United States (perhaps Florida or California). It is a cosmopolitan weed (Old World native) and occurs in Mexico. It has sometimes been identified by the misapplied name Gnaphalium indicum Linnaeus.

Selected References



1 Heads in relatively elongate, interrupted, spiciform glomerules, not subtended by foliaceous bracts; leaf blades oblanceolate, mostly 2–4 cm; tips of inner phyllaries brownish Gnaphalium polycaulon
1 Heads in terminal glomerules, subtended by foliaceous bracts; leaf blades spatulate to oblanceolate-oblong or linear to narrowly oblanceolate, mostly 0.5–2.5 cm; tips of inner phyllaries white > 2
2 Leaf blades spatulate to oblanceolate-oblong, 3–8(–10) mm wide; bracts subtending heads oblanceolate to obovate, longest 4–12 × 1.5–4 mm, shorter than or equaling to slightly surpassing glomerules; inner phyllaries narrowly oblong, apices blunt Gnaphalium palustre
2 Leaf blades linear to narrowly oblanceolate, 0.5–3 mm wide; bracts subtending heads linear, oblanceolate, or obovate, 5–25 × 0.5–2 mm, surpassing glomerules; inner phyllaries narrowly triangular, apices acute > 3
3 Leaf blades linear, the largest 0.4–5 cm; bracts subtending heads linear, 10–25 × 0.5–1 mm; heads in spiciform arrays of spikelike, axillary glomerules Gnaphalium exilifolium
3 Leaf blades oblanceolate, the largest 1–5 cm; bracts subtending heads linear, oblanceolate, or obovate, 5–15 × 1–2 mm; heads in terminal, capitate glomerules, some- times in axillary glomerules Gnaphalium uliginosum
... more about "Gnaphalium"
Guy L. Nesom +
Linnaeus +
North America +, Mexico +, Central America +, South America +, Asia +, Africa +  and Australia. +
Greek gnaphalion, a downy plant, the name anciently applied to these or similar plants +
Sp. Pl. +  and Gen. Pl. ed. +
1753 +  and 1754 +
Filaginella +
Gnaphalium +
Asteraceae tribe Gnaphalieae +