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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
PEARLY EVERLASTING, WESTERN PEARLY EVERLASTING
Pronounced: a-NAF-uh-lus mar-gar-ee-tuh-KEE-uh
Sunset zones: Not listed.
USDA zones: 3b-9b.
Heat zones: 8-1.
Height: 24 inches (60 cm).
Width: 24 inches (60 cm).
Midsummer to autumn.
White papery bracts surround small, yellow disk flowers. The papery bracts last indefinitely when dried.
Lance-shaped, white, woolly leaves turn green as they age, with white, woolly hairs underneath.
Sun to part shade.
Fertile, moist, well-drained soil is best, but A. margaritacea can be found in a variety of soil types including dry, gravelly beds.
Collect seed from July to September and sow in spring.
Divide in spring or fall every 3 years or when clumps become too dense.
Softwood cuttings in late spring or early summer.
Rainy Side Notes
Anaphalis margaritacea is the only species from this genus found in North America. Anaphalis came from a Greek name for a similar plant. Since the flowers are pearl-like, its epithet margaritacea comes from the Latin word for pearl.
The native perennial was used medicinally by many Native Americans across the continent. Some common traditions included burn dressing by the Algonquin, while the Cherokee exploited it for headaches, colds and respiratory aid and for the eyes and throat. The Chippewa put the flowers into service for rheumatism and paralysis; the Iroquois used it as a treatment for diarrhea and other ailments. Northwest native tribes such as the Quileute utilized the whole plant as a steam bath to help with rheumatism. The Makah believed the plant made sores, so their children were not allowed to play with it.
The plant is still employed as an anti-inflammatory, a poultice for bruises and as an astringent. Tea is made for digestion problems while others smoke it as a tobacco substitute. Amazingly it's also used for mattress and pillow stuffing.
In the Garden
A common plant in disturbed areas, pearly everlasting is useful for the home garden. For my own, I plant this native for its dried cut flowers and as a nectar source for beneficial insects. It's popular for dried flower gatherers; the papery white bracts that surround the yellow flower dry well. For those who plant for wildlife, pearly everlasting attracts butterflies; include it in the butterfly garden, even if many think it is a weed! A. margaritacea is dioecious; both a male and female are necessary for seed production.
Photographed at Olympic College, Bremerton, Washington.