Cudweeds and Allies

Curry-plant Red-tipped Cudweed Marsh Cudweed Pearly Everlasting

What are they?

This page covers some of the least showy members of the daisy family (Asteraceae). While their flowers may appear very different from those of a daisy, they are essentially rather similar upon a closer look, since they rather resemble the button-like centre to a daisy flower but lack a ring of coloured petals around the outside. The flowerheads each consist of a tight cluster of small, individual florets which may be picked out with a hand lens. Most of the species on this page are known as cudweeds, but a few other species appear towards the bottom of the page and are somewhat similar to the true cudweeds and related to them.

Where are they found?

Our native species are mostly plants of light, sandy soils on heaths, coastal dunes and drier arable margins, but some are also found in damp places, while others are introduced and more likely to be found in disturbed or urban environments. This range of habitat choices can aid the identification process.

Identification

The cudweeds are generally annual plants that form a tussock of basal leaves before producing upright spikes that terminate in flower clusters. Some of the associated species are perennials, with Curry-plant forming a woody bush. Most of these species are fairly easy to identify by checking the growth style, leaf shape and the flowers, but some of the cudweeds are a little tricky and a hand lens might come in handy at times. All the plants on this page are densely hairy.



Common Cudweed      Filago germanica

Native. Common on light, sandy soils on heaths, open grasslands and in arable fields, especially in fallow or set-aside land. Flowers July to August. Small plants from 5-40cm in height, sometimes growing in tight swards with many plants packed close together. Stem leaves linear and relatively narrow compared with closely-related species; leaf-tip tapered to a point. Flowerheads like furry, spiky balls at the tops of woolly, upright stems, each cluster of florets being surrounded by a few, spiky-looking outer bracts that are straw-coloured.

Common Cudweed Common Cudweed Common Cudweed Common Cudweed
Habit
Flowerheads
Basal leaves
Stem leaves


Red-tipped Cudweed      Filago lutescens

A very rare, Red Data Book species that is classed as endangered, though it is not clear whether it may have originally been introduced to the UK. Occurs at a handful of sites on disturbed sandy soils in the Sandlings and Breckland. Flowers July to August. Often rather difficult to tell from Common Cudweed and the two may be found growing together. Stem leaves a little broader than those of Common Cudweed with a rounder tip that terminates in a small spike. Flowerheads like furry, spiky balls at the tops of woolly, upright stems, each cluster of florets being surrounded by a few, spiky-looking outer bracts that are deep crimson in colour, fading as the flowers pass their peak.

Red-tipped Cudweed Red-tipped Cudweed Red-tipped Cudweed Red-tipped Cudweed
Habit
Flowerheads
Flowerheads
Stem leaf


Broad-leaved Cudweed      Filago pyramidata

A very rare, Red Data Book species that is classed as endangered, though it is probably an ancient introduction in the UK. Now extremely rare in East Anglia, with the last Norfolk record being in 1958, but it is still known to occur in Cambridgeshire and at a single site in West Suffolk. A plant of dry, sandy banks and open ground. Flowers July to August. Differs from Common and Red-tipped Cudweeds by its clearly broader leaves and by the array of leafy bracts that surround the flowerheads. Often very short, with plants barely reaching a few centimetres in height with a single stem topped with a few flowers.

Broad-leaved Cudweed Broad-leaved Cudweed Broad-leaved Cudweed Broad-leaved Cudweed
Habit
Flowerheads
Flowerheads
Stem leaf


Small Cudweed      Logfia minima

Native. Locally common on light, sandy soils on heaths, open grasslands and arable margins in Breckland and the Suffolk Sandlings. Occasional but generally rare elsewhere. Flowers June to September. Small plants from 5-30cm in height, often growing in discreet little colonies of plants; the entire plant is densely white-hairy. Stem leaves linear with shortly tapered tips. Flowerheads in small clusters, typically just four or five in a head and held above the stem leaves. Stems very slender, forked at the first flowerheads to produce a second, upper layer of heads.

Small Cudweed Small Cudweed Small Cudweed Small Cudweed
Habit
Flowerheads
Flowerheads
Stem leaves


Narrow-leaved Cudweed      Logfia gallica

An ancient introduction in the UK that became extinct in the wild around the mid-1950s with a few, largely unsuccessful, attempts to re-introduce it. It still persists where re-introduced in North Essex. Changes in climate may favour this southern species so it is worth keeping an eye out for. Flowers July to September. Small plants from 2-25cm in height. Stem leaves linear with long-tapered tips. Flowerheads in small clusters, overtopped by the uppermost stem leaves. Stems may be single, but larger plants may branch more freely from the base.

Narrow-leaved Cudweed Narrow-leaved Cudweed Narrow-leaved Cudweed Narrow-leaved Cudweed
Habit
Flowerheads
Flowerheads
Stem leaves


Heath Cudweed      Omalotheca sylvatica

Native. Once more common on dry, acid heathland but now very rare and classed as endangered. Probably shaded out by the mass planting of conifers on heathland, but odd single plants appear from time to time and this species may recover a little as forestry methods are changing. Flowers July to September. Small plants from 5-50cm in height, typically producing a spreading mat of basal leaves before sending up vertical, flowering stems. Stem leaves linear and slender; leaf-tip tapered to a point. Flowerheads borne in the leaf axils, producing distinctive, upright spikes of flowers, tapering to a point.

Heath Cudweed Heath Cudweed Heath Cudweed Heath Cudweed
Habit
Flowerheads
Flowerheads
Stem leaves


Marsh Cudweed      Gnaphalium uliginosum

Native.Widespread and quite common in many areas on lighter, sandy soils where water sits in winter, such as rutted tracks and field margins. Flowers July to September. Differs from our other cudweeds in forming many-stemmed, bushy plants from a basal rosette of leaves. Stems and leaves densley white-hairy, the leaves often gently curved or waved. Flowerheads borne in tight clusters with dark outer bracts and surrounded by spreading, leafy bracts.

Marsh Cudweed Marsh Cudweed Marsh Cudweed Marsh Cudweed
Habit
Flowerheads
Flowerheads
Basal leaves


Jersey Cudweed      Laphangium luteoalbum

A strange plant that was probably an ancient introduction in the UK but became almost extinct, with a small population on the North Norfolk coast being some of the last to survive in the country. However, in recent years, it has appeared with startling regularity as a pavement weed in many parts of the UK and may do so in East Anglia soon. Flowers June to August. A slender plant with densely white-woolly stems and leaves, the leaves with recurved margins. The flowers are carried in small clusters well above the leaves and have silvery outer bracts.

Jersey Cudweed Jersey Cudweed Jersey Cudweed Jersey Cudweed
Habit
Flowerheads
Flowerheads
Stem leaf


Mountain Catsfoot      Antennaria dioica

Once native in the region in short turf on grassy heaths but sadly now extinct due to agricultural intensification and habitat loss. Popular as an 'alpine' plant and may rarely be found as an escape from cultivation or garden throw-out. Flowers June to July. A low, creeping, mat-forming perennial with pink or white flowers carried in tight clusters atop white-wooly stems. Basal leaves broadly elliptic, often folded inwards along the midline. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants.

Mountain Catsfoot Mountain Catsfoot Mountain Catsfoot
Habit
Flowerheads
Flowerheads


Pearly Everlasting      Anaphalis margaritacea

An introduction, grown since Tudor times and recorded from Suffolk. No recent records but may reappear as a garden throw-out. Flowers August to September. Stems densely white-hairy and pearly-white flowers relatively large and showy.

Pearly Everlasting Pearly Everlasting Pearly Everlasting Pearly Everlasting
Flowerheads
Flowerheads
Stem leaf
Stem


Curry-plant      Helichrysum italicum

Introduced from mainland Europe as a garden ornamental and herb. one recent record from Suffolk but may occur elsewhere as a garden throw-out. Flowers July to September. A woody perennial shrub growing to around 70cm in height. The whole plant has a strong curry smell, detectable on warm days even without touching the plant!

Curry-plant Curry-plant Curry-plant Curry-plant
Habit
Flowerheads in bud
Flowerheads
Stem leaves