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photo credit Amanda Law, Suwannee County Extension

Weed or Wildflower? Fragrant Rabbit Tobacco

October in North Florida is alive with the buzz of bees on a variety of flowers. Including a petite silver plant with white flower clusters. Know by many names as Fragrant cudweed, Rabbit tobacco or Sweet Everlasting, this plant’s botanical name is Pseudonaphalium obtusifolium. Wow, that botanical name is a mouthful!

Where is Rabbit tobacco found?

If you have sandy, disturbed field or dandy pinelands, then you just might find this beautiful little annual or sometimes biennial plant. You can also see it along roadsides or coastal dunes from Alberta, Canada through Nebraska, Minnesota, Texas and Florida.

What are the plants distinguishing features?

The plant has silver green stems broad basal rosettes of eaves the first year. Then in the second year it will produce the flowering stem with white flowers. The plant remains standing until the following spring, hence the name, “Sweet Everlasting”.

The early morning dew shimmers against the tiny white, wooly hairs on the leaves giving them a whitish, silvery appearance. The leaves have a velvety feel and have a maple syrup aroma when crushed. The flowers are white, tubular clusters and are fragrant. Look for these showy plant blooms from the end of August through early November in North Florida. For specific leaf and flower characteristics click here.

Does Rabbit tobacco have wildlife value?

This plant supports a variety of wildlife. A variety of pollinators utilize this plant including Short-tongued bees, wasps, and flies. Wild turkey and deer eat the foliage. It is a host plant for the American Lady Butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis) larvae. Learn more about this beautiful butterfly by visiting this website. http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/american_lady.htm

American Lady butterflies use Rabbit Tobacco as a host plant for their larvae.
Photo Don Hall, University of Florida

 

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