California cudweed is a perennial herb that ranges from eight inches to almost three feet tall and two feet wide, has a pleasant fragrance and goes semi-dormant in the summer after blooming in the winter, spring and early summer.
Known scientifically both as pseudognaphalium californicum and gnaphalium californicum, it is a species of flowering plant in the asteraceae or sunflower family known by several other common names, including ladies’ tobacco, California rabbit tobacco, and California everlasting. It is native to the West Coast of North America from Washington to Baja California, where it is a member of the flora of many habitats, including chaparral. In California it is most often found near the coast from Sonoma County southward and in the Sierra foothills. This is an annual or biennial herb growing a branching stem reaching eight to 32 inches in height. Stem branches bear linear to somewhat lance-shaped leaves from nearly an inch to eight inches long. The green herbage is hairy, sticky and scented, with the leaves producing a distinctive aroma like maple syrup.
The flower head is a wide cluster of flowers, each enveloped in an involucre of rows of bright white phyllaries. The flowers are very long lasting when dried and are used in flower arrangements. Classification is disputed between the genera pseudognaphalium and gnaphalium, but it is presently classified as pseudognaphlium. There is also uncertainty in the common name; some sources refer to it as pearly everlasting, which is actually a separate species (anaphlis margaritacea). It can be used to populate an informal garden or wildscape. It reseeds itself prolifically, so those cultivating it should be prepared to pull seedlings from areas where it is not wanted.
Cudweed is an herb. The parts that grow above the ground are used to make medicine.
People use cudweed for conditions such as high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, diarrhea, gut infections, and many others, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
Butterflies and moths feeding upon it include the American lady, vanessa virginiensis; the orange tortrix moth, argyrotaenia franciscana; platyptilia williamsii; egira hiemalis; the everlasting tebenna moth, tebenna gnaphaliella; hellinsia phoebus; rifseria fuscotaeniaella; scrobipalpula psilella; eucosma apacheana; clepsis fucana; diastictis sperryorum; the everlasting bud moth, eublemma minima; cremastobombycia grindeliella; and patagonia peregrinum.
From https://calscape.org, Wikipedia, https://www.webmd.com/