Botanical Name: Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium
Species: P. obtusifolium
Common Name: Rabbit Tobacco, Sweet Everlasting, Sweet White Balsam, Fragrant Life Everlasting, Fuzzy Gussy , Gnaphalium Obtusifolium. Indian Posy, Cat’s Foot Gnaphalium obtusifolium,
Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a annual which can reach 80cm in height (30inches). It is sometimes a biennial. The plant is covered with a cottony down.These annual herbs reach a height of 1 to 3 feet and have erect stems with brown, shriveled leaves persisting into winter and stems covered with felt-like hairs in summer.Erect, cottony stem bears branched clusters of whitish-yellow, round, fragrant flower heads. The leaves are 1 to 3 inches long, and alternate. The flowers, minute in whitish heads, appear in late summer to fall.
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Each leaf is entire, narrow and, like the rest of the plant, wooly
Flowers: The flower parts are not discernable with the naked eye and are up to 1cm long (0.4 inches) and are up to 0.5cm wide (0.2 inches). They are whitish to light brown. Blooms first appear in mid summer and continue into mid fall.
Everlastings in abandoned fields or seasonally mowed areas especially slopes for it is not fond of low or damp areas. The plant is slightly aromatic and has a distinctive color and form. Even in the dead of winter it is easy to spot. Harvested while still fresh the flowers will remain intact for a long time.
The Cherokee named it rabbit tobacco because they believe it was the rabbit who took attended the plant.Unmistakable by its creamy appearance in the still green background of the early fall meadows. Leaves long, elliptical and silver green colored. Plant up to one meter high. Unusual fragrance. Can be smoked for respiratory ailments or made into a relaxing tea. A common tobacco substitute used by young boys in rural areas.
Lore: There are many accounts of Everlasting being smoked in place of tobacco by Native Americans and settlers alike and the smoke held a spiritual or mystic power for many Indians. The Cheyenne dropped the leaves on hot coals and used the smoke to purify gifts to the spirits. Cheyenne warriors chewed the leaves and rubbed there body’s with it to strengthen and protect them in battle. The Menomini used the smoke after a death to keep the ghost of a the dead from bringing nightmares and bad luck to the surviving family members. The Potawatomi and the Chippewa use the smoke to drive away sprits (witches) from their dwellings. The Cherokees used it in sweat baths. It was also thought by many tribes that the smoke had a restorative power that could revive the unconscious or paralyzed.(Erichsen-Brown) The fresh juice has some reputation as an aphrodisiac(Newcomb) though how it is used or how much I, sadly, do not know.
Medical Uses: Everlasting is certainly astringent and is commonly thought to be sedative, diuretic and a very mild pain reliever. Both the smoke and a leaf tea have been use to treat various throat and bronchial conditions from colds to asthma and especially for coughs. It is also used for diarrhea. Sores on the skin and in the mouth are poulticed with it as are bruises and it has been highly recommended for burns.
Similar Species: Clammy Everlasting (P. macounii) is very similar. The leaves are wider at the base and clasp the stem whereas the leaves or Sweet Everlasting taper slightly at the base.
Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) (note that it is a different genus) also is very similar. It has wider flower heads that are almost pure white. It is a perennial. This plant is often used in dried flower arrangements. Male and female flowers are on different plants. It’s range extends only as far south as the Virginias.
Less similar are members of the Antennaria genus Pussytoes .
Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.