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Kevin Doyle

Woodland Cudweed (Omalotheca sylvatica)

Life history

Species overview

Woodland Cudweed (Omalotheca sylvatica), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in openings in hardwoods and mixed woods and along old trails and shady, little used roads. Elsewhere in its range, this species is known from clearings, rocky slopes, and borders of woods and fields. Blooming occurs late July through late August; fruiting occurs early August through early October. The optimal identification period for this species is early August through early October.

Synonyms: Gnaphalium sylvaticum


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Plants short (10 to 60 cm); leaves alternate, numerous and overlapping, linear or narrowly oblanceolate, mostly glabrous above; pappus bristles united into a ring at base.
  • Flower characteristics: Inflorescence narrow, somewhat leafy-bracteate, with 10 or more heads; pappus bristles united into a ring at base.
  • Fruit characteristics: Achenes sparsely strigose.
  • Leaf characteristics: Alternate, linear or narrowly oblanceolate, numerous and overlapping, mostly glabrous above; larger basal and lower cauline leaves 3 to 8 mm wide; leaves at the base of the inflorescence 2 to 3 mm wide.


  • Blooming phenology: late July through late August
  • Fruiting phenology: early August through early October
  • Optimum time to identify: early August through early October


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Abies balsamea, Clintonia borealis, Lycopodium digitatum, Rubus hispidus, R. strigosus, Aster lateriflorus, Ranunculus acris, Trifolium repens, Hieracium aurantiacum.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Woodland Cudweed (Omalotheca sylvatica). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Omalotheca sylvatica in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG4
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in openings in hardwoods and mixed woods and along old trails and shady, little used roads. Elsewhere in its range, this species is known from clearings, rocky slopes, and borders of woods and fields.
  • Soils: Moist, bare, often disturbed soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Woodland Cudweed. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Boreal Forest 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Woodland Cudweed. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Woodland Cudweed (Omalotheca sylvatica) has very few known occurrences in the state and is of the highest priority for conservation; we encourage you to consult with your District Ecologist or NHI Botanist for specific recommendations for your site.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes on or near known populations.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Although maintaining high overall forest canopy is important, silvicultural techniques which open small gaps in the canopy may be beneficial to this species.


Woodland Cudweed  Photo.

Gnaphalium sylvaticum

Photo © Steve Garske.

Woodland Cudweed  Photo.

Gnaphalium sylvaticum

Photo © Steve Garske.

Woodland Cudweed  Photo.

Gnaphalium sylvaticum

Photo © Steve Garske.

Woodland Cudweed  Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition