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Heath Cudweed

Gnaphalium sylvaticus

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Alpine Blue Sow-thistle, Alpine Cotula, Alpine Fleabane, Alpine Saw-wort, Annual Ragweed, Annual Sunflower, Argentine Fleabane, Autumn Hawkbit, Autumn Oxeye, Beaked Hawksbeard, Beggarticks, Bilbao Fleabane, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Blue Globe-thistle, Bristly Oxtongue, Broad-leaved Cudweed, Broad-leaved Ragwort, Brown Knapweed, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Cabbage Thistle, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Chamois Ragwort, Changing Michaelmas Daisy, Chicory, Chinese Mugwort, Chinese Ragwort, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Cudweed, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Fleabane, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Common Wormwood, Coneflower, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Cotton Thistle, Cottonweed, Creeping Thistle, Daisy Bush, Dwarf Cudweed, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Eastern Groundsel, Eastern Leopardsbane, Elecampane, English Hawkweed, Fen Ragwort, Feverfew, Field Fleawort, Field Wormwood, Fox and Cubs, French Tarragon, Gallant Soldier, Garden Lettuce, Giant Butterbur, Glabrous-headed Hawkweed, Glandular Globe-thistle, Glaucous Michaelmas Daisy, Globe Artichoke, Globe-thistle, Goat's Beard, Golden Ragwort, Golden Samphire, Goldilocks Aster, Grass-leaved Goldenrod, Great Lettuce, Greater Burdock, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Guernsey Fleabane, Hairless Blue Sow-thistle, Hairless Leptinella, Hairy Michaelmas Daisy, Harpur Crewe's Leopardsbane, Hawkweed Oxtongue, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Highland Cudweed, Hoary Mugwort, Hoary Ragwort, Hybrid Knapweed, Intermediate Burdock, Irish Fleabane, Jersey Cudweed, Jerusalem Artichoke, Lance-leaved Hawkweed, Lavender-cotton, Leafless Hawksbeard, Least Lettuce, Leopardplant, Leopardsbane, Leptinella, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Hawkbit, Lesser Sunflower, London Bur-marigold, Magellan Ragwort, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Hawksbeard, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Sow-thistle, Marsh Thistle, Meadow Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Milk Thistle, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Cudweed, Narrow-leaved Hawkweed, Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, New Zealand Holly, Nipplewort, Nodding Bur-marigold, Northern Hawksbeard, Norwegian Mugwort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Pearly Everlasting, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Ragweed, Perennial Sow-thistle, Perennial Sunflower, Pineapple Mayweed, Plantain-leaved Leopardsbane, Ploughman's Spikenard, Plymouth Thistle, Pontic Blue Sow-thistle, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Purple Coltsfoot, Rayed Tansy, Red Star Thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Red-tipped Cudweed, Robin's Plantain, Roman Chamomile, Rough Cocklebur, Rough Hawkbit, Rough Hawksbeard, Russian Lettuce, Safflower, Salsify, Saw-wort, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Sea Wormwood, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shrub Ragwort, Sicilian Chamomile, Silver Ragwort, Slender Mugwort, Slender Thistle, Small Cudweed, Small Fleabane, Smooth Cat's-ear, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Cat's-ear, Spotted Hawkweed, Sticky Groundsel, Stinking Chamomile, Stinking Hawksbeard, Tall Fleabane, Tall Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Tansy, Thin-leaved Sunflower, Treasureflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White African Daisy, White Butterbur, White Buttons, Willdenow's Leopardsbane, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Wood Ragwort, Woody Fleabane, Woolly Thistle, Yarrow, Yellow Chamomile, Yellow Fox and Cubs, Yellow Oxeye, Yellow Star Thistle, Yellow Thistle, York Groundsel
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Fields, heathland, hedgerows, sand dunes, woodland.

Yellow, no petals
A tall flower spike of yellow flowers. The narrowly oblong flowers are pink on the inside. The bracts are brown on the outside and green on the inside.
The fruit is a hairy achene (seed) with a reddish-brown pappus (hairs).
Linear, dark green, lance-shaped leaves, up to 8cm long. The upper leaves are the shortest. They are hairless above and felted white below. The stems are erect. Perennial.
Other Names:
Chafeweed, Golden Motherwort, Owl's Crown, Wood Cottonweed, Wood Cudweed.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Gnaphalium sylvaticum, also known as wood cudweed or wood cottonweed, is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family. It is native to Europe and can be found in woodland habitats, such as forests and hedgerows. The plant has small, white flowers with a yellow center that bloom in the summer and autumn. The flowers are surrounded by a ring of small, hairy, green bracts that resemble leaves. The plant has a hairy, branching stem and grows to be about 30 cm tall. It is a popular garden plant and is often grown for its attractive flowers and ability to tolerate shade. Wood cudweed is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems and skin conditions.


Heath Cudweed (Gnaphalium sylvaticus) is a beautiful, delicate and little-known wildflower that is native to the British Isles. With its small, yellow, daisy-like flowers and soft, fluffy, white ‘feathery’ appearance, it is a joy to behold. In this blog, we will take a closer look at this fascinating plant and discover why it is so special.

Heath Cudweed is a hardy, low-growing plant that grows in a range of habitats, including heaths, moors, and other open areas. It flowers from July to September and is particularly abundant in the northern parts of the UK. It is a member of the daisy family, Asteraceae, and its flowers are very similar to those of the common daisy. However, unlike the daisy, which has a central disk of flowers, Heath Cudweed has its flowers arranged along the stem in clusters.

The plant gets its common name from the old English word ‘cudwead’, meaning ‘cotton plant’. This refers to the white, downy hairs that cover the plant’s leaves and stems, giving it a soft, feathery appearance. These hairs help to protect the plant from damage by providing a barrier against wind and frost.

In addition to its beauty, Heath Cudweed is also an important plant for wildlife. Its flowers provide a valuable source of nectar for a wide range of insects, including bees, butterflies, and moths. The plant’s seeds are also a valuable food source for many species of birds, including goldfinches and buntings.

Despite its many qualities, Heath Cudweed is not widely known or appreciated. This is partly due to its relatively small size, which means it can easily be overlooked. However, it is also due to its association with the bleak and barren landscapes of the moors and heaths, which are not typically seen as attractive or welcoming environments.

If you would like to see Heath Cudweed for yourself, it is best to look for it in the wild. The best time to see it is during its flowering season, from July to September. Alternatively, you can grow it in your own garden or allotment, although it can be a little fussy and is best grown in well-drained, acidic soils.

Heath Cudweed is a fascinating and beautiful wildflower that deserves to be more widely appreciated. With its delicate yellow flowers, fluffy white appearance, and important role in the ecosystem, it is a true gem of the British countryside. So, next time you are out walking in the wild, keep your eyes peeled for this special plant and appreciate its beauty and significance.

In addition to its ornamental value, Heath Cudweed also has a long history of traditional medicinal uses. It was believed to have many medicinal properties and was used to treat a range of ailments, from coughs and colds to wounds and skin irritations.

The plant contains compounds such as flavonoids and tannins, which have anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. These properties make it an effective treatment for skin irritation and wounds, as well as for digestive problems such as indigestion and diarrhea.

In traditional folk medicine, Heath Cudweed was used to make a tea that was drunk to relieve coughs and colds. The tea was also used to soothe sore throats and to reduce inflammation in the mouth and throat. Some traditional healers also used the plant to make a poultice that was applied to wounds and bruises to speed up the healing process.

In modern times, Heath Cudweed is still used in traditional medicine, although it is now used mainly as a dietary supplement in the form of tinctures, capsules, and teas. Some health food stores and online retailers sell Heath Cudweed supplements, but it is important to note that these products have not been evaluated by regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and their safety and efficacy have not been established.

Despite its traditional medicinal uses, Heath Cudweed is not commonly used in modern medicine. This is partly due to the fact that there is limited scientific evidence to support its effectiveness, and partly due to the availability of more effective and widely used treatments for many of the conditions for which it was traditionally used.

In conclusion, Heath Cudweed is a fascinating plant that has a long history of traditional medicinal uses. Although its efficacy as a treatment for various conditions has not been established through scientific research, it is still used in traditional medicine, mainly as a dietary supplement. Whether you appreciate it for its ornamental value, its role in the ecosystem, or its traditional medicinal uses, Heath Cudweed is a unique and special plant that deserves to be celebrated.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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