Pearly Everlasting – Anaphalis Margaritacea: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Moonshine of Wild Plants

Table of Contents

In Chippewa, wa’bigwun meaning “flowers”, pearly everlasting is a unique looking edible and medicinal plant. While not used much these days for food or medicine, it’s still a hit for American Lady butterflies and florists alike.

Pearly everlasting (anaphalis margaritacea) is especially common along roadsides and damp ditches. It’s named for its pearly colored flower bracts. Silver leaf, silver button and moonshine are some of its similar folknames.

Edible Uses of Pearly Everlasting

Young plants and even older leaves can be eaten when cooked as a potherb, but their fuzziness may make them unpalatable to most folks.

Medicinal Uses of Pearly Everlasting

Pearly everlasting is primarily said to support these body systems:

  • Integumentary
  • Respiratory

Medicinal tags include Antiallergic, Antimicrobial, Antiseptic, Astringent, Expectorant and Sedative. See Medicinal tag key for more information.

Common usage includes smoked, sometimes with mullein, for coughs from colds or asthma. As an astringent, it can be used for a gargle for a sore throat, or in a skin poultice for burns and heat rash.

It’s an old remedy for paralysis, as a smoke cleansing, often including a mixture of herbs.

Alternative Uses of Silver Button

They are beautiful in flower arrangements as the flowers retain that pearly look when dried.

Green and yellow to brown dyes can be obtained from the flowers, stems and leaves.

They’ve been used as a moth repellent in wardrobes (but hey, there are literally 2 moth species that eat clothes, out of 160,000 species!) My lack of clothing eating moths makes it hard to test this out!

Growing Anaphalis Margaritacea

The first thing that got me interested in planting some pearly is that the leaves are host to the caterpillars of various painted lady butterflies (vanessa spp.), a butterfly I have only seen here on rare occasion. Other butterflies will visit it too. You can plant it in about any soil, even poor soil, and it’ll flower best in full sun. If the butterflies find it, it’ll look a little messy (the cats pull the flowerheads together into a cotton ball like clump, maybe one reason it’s also called cottonweed), but the plant will grow back and frass from the caterpillar activity will make it grow back better. It’s a good spreader too, and low maintenance!

I’m starting the seeds of this one this year, 2022, and in two years we’ll have flowers🤞. I’m using it as a medium height groundcover along ditches and in remaining spots of grassy lawn I want to ditch.


And the Usual Cautions:

1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation.

2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk.

3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored.

4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.

5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.

#ads in References

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Every book I reference that is available on Amazon is linked to with an associates link.



Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada

How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts (Native American)

Mi’kmaq Medicines (2nd edition): Remedies and Recollections

Medicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants: A Historical Survey with Special Reference to the Eastern Indian Tribes

Please Like, Comment, Share! We'd love to hear your stories and knowledge! Thank you!

Leave a Comment