Antennaria parvifolia Nutt.


by Justy Leppert, Native Plants of Arizona 2007

Common names:  Smallleaf pussytoes (4), Nuttall’s pussytoes (3).

Family:  Asteraceae (1).

Synonymy:  Antennaria aprica Green, Antennaria aprica Greene var. minuscula (Boivin) Boivin, Antennaria aureola Lunell, Antennaria holmii Greene, Antennaria latisquamea Greene, Antennaria minuscula Boivin, Antennaria obtusata Greene, Antennaria pumila Greene, Antennaria recurva Greene, Antennaria rhodanthus Suksdorf (1).

Etymology:  From the Latin antenna, referencing the resemblance of the male flowers to insect antennae (4).  The suffix –aria means connection to or possession of (3).  Parvifolia means small-leaved, from the Greek parvus for small and folia for leaf (5).



Growth form:  Mat-forming.  Rhizomatous.  Short, inconspicuous stems (4).

Stem:  Stolons 1-6 cm (3).  Flowering stem 10 to 15 cm tall (4). 

Leaves:  Basal leaves spatulate, grayish-green, tomentose above and below, 16-30 mm long, 3-11 mm wide, tapering at base but not petiolate (4), one-nerved (3).  Cauline leaves linear to narrowly oblanceolate, 8-20 mm long (3).    

Inflorescence/flowers:  Terminal cluster of 1-8 small heads.  Peduncle is tomentose. (4).  Flowers white (2). 

Fruit:  Achene (4).

Similar species:  A. parvifolia can be distinguished from a similar species, A. microphylla, by its larger heads (involucres 4-7 mm tall vs. 7-11 mm tall) (4).



Life history:  Perennial herb (4). Dioecious (male and female flowers are located on separate plants) or gynoecious (have only female flowers) (3).

Native/introduced:  Native (1).

Phenology:  Flowers May through August (4). 

Distribution:  Forests and meadows from 5000 to 12000 feet.  In Arizona, A. parvifolia is found in Coconino, Navajo, Apache, Gila, Yavapai, Graham, Cochise, and Pima counties.  A. parvifolia is found in nearly all of the continental Western states:  Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, as well as Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Okalahoma, South Dakota, and Texas (1).  It is also found in Mexico (Chihuahua, Nuevo León) (2). 



Antennaria parvifolia is poor forage and readily colonizes heavily grazed areas in the absence of competition.  It is a good soil stabilizer and commonly colonizes burned areas.  A tea from this plant is used for liver inflammation and hepatitis symptoms.  A douche made from the leaves is used to treat vaginitis.  The greens are used for food, medicine, and smoke.  This plant was historically used for totem protection (4).




1.  USDA, NRCS. (2007). The PLANTS Database.  Retrieved Sept. 21, 2007, from


2.  Southwest Environmental Information Network.  Antennaria parvifolia.  In SEInet.  Retrieved Sept. 21, 2007 from

3. 2007.  Antennaria parvifolia in Flora of North America.  Retrieved Sept. 21, 2007 from

4.  Springer, J., Daniels, M., Buckley, S., Laughlin, D., Huisinga, K., Tuten, M., et al.  (2005).  Plants of Northern Arizona Forests.  Unpublished manuscript, Ecological Restoration Institute, Flagstaff, AZ.

5.  Charters, Michael L.  California Plant Names:  Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations.  Retrieved Sept 21, 2007 from