Also known as field pussytoes, this mid- to late-spring pollinator excels as a gray-green groundcover in rock gardens, on rocky slopes or in poor soils. White, compact flower clusters resembling tiny cat feet form atop 10” stems in April-June, attracting bees, flies, and butterflies. In the wild, it grows in glades, prairies, and dry, open woodlands with dappled shade.
Foliage is 1-3” tall; flowers are 6-10” tall. Spreads 12-24”.
Does best in full sun to light shade.
Thrives in gritty, rocky, well-drained soils with dry to medium moisture. Difficult to grow in fertile, humusy soils.
Female plants have fuzzy white flowers tinged with pink; male plants have white flowers with brown stamens, similar in appearance to the toes of a cat’s paw.
Soft, woolly, paddle-shaped leaves are at ground level. Grayish, fuzzy stalks emerge in early spring.
The plants form colonies through rhizomes and reseeding.
Pussytoes is a host for three caterpillars—American lady butterfly and Agnopterix nebulosi and pussystoes pyrausta moths. It is visited primarily by halictid bees, cuckoo bees, adrenid bees, and a variety of fly species. It is a host for fly larvae, including chrysanthemum leaf miner and pussytoes bud midge. Bobwhite quail and the declining population of ruffed grouse eat the seeds, while deer and rabbits browse the foliage.
Medicinal, Edible and Other Uses:
The Cherokee used this plant to make a medicinal tea to aid digestion, as it can stimulate bile flow and pancreatic enzyme secretion.
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