Asteraceae / Composite
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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
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 .
One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.
This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.
Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves