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Highland Cudweed

Gnaphalium norvegicum

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 Cudweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, 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:
30 centimetres tall
Fields, meadows, mountains, riversides, roadsides, rocky places.

Pink, no petals
Pinkish flowers held in a leafy spike. Brown bracts with a dark tip.
The fruit is an achene (seed) with a pappus of hairs on one end.
Narrow, silvery, 3-veined leaves, alternating along the stems. The leaves are woolly hairy on both sides. Perennial.
Other Names:
Norwegian Arctic Cudweed, Norwegian Cottonweed, Norwegian Cudweed.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Gnaphalium norvegicum, also known as Norwegian cudweed or Norwegian cottonweed, is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family. It is native to Europe and can be found in a variety of habitats, including meadows, pastures, and roadside verges. The plant has hairy, green leaves and small, yellow flowers with a brown center that bloom in the spring and summer. 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 dry conditions. Norwegian cudweed is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems and skin conditions.


Highland Cudweed: A Versatile and Resilient Plant

Highland cudweed (Gnaphalium norvegicum) is a low-growing, herbaceous plant that belongs to the aster family. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North America, and can be found growing in a variety of habitats, including high-altitude meadows, tundra, and rocky outcroppings. Despite its rough and tumble growing conditions, highland cudweed is a hardy plant that is both versatile and resilient.

The plant gets its common name, cudweed, from its habit of producing a dense, spiky ball of flowers that looks like the tuft of hair on the back of a domesticated animal. This ball of flowers is surrounded by a rosette of leaves, which are covered in fine, white hairs. The leaves are oval-shaped and are typically between 2-5 centimeters in length. The flowers are small and white, and bloom in late summer and early autumn.

Highland cudweed is a versatile plant that can be used for a variety of purposes. In the wild, it is an important food source for many species of wildlife, including bees, butterflies, and small mammals. It is also used as a medicinal plant, and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems, skin conditions, and digestive issues. In addition, highland cudweed has been used as a natural dye, and its white, felted leaves have been used to make paper.

Despite its many uses, highland cudweed is often overlooked in the garden. This is because it is not a showy plant, and its small size and spiky flowers make it less attractive to gardeners. However, those who do grow highland cudweed will be rewarded with a hardy, low-maintenance plant that will thrive in a variety of conditions. It is particularly well-suited to rock gardens, and can be grown in full sun or partial shade.

One of the great things about highland cudweed is that it is extremely resilient. It can withstand harsh growing conditions, including cold temperatures, strong winds, and drought. It is also resistant to pests and diseases, and will not be affected by common garden pests like aphids and slugs. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who want a low-maintenance plant that will thrive with little care.

Highland cudweed is a versatile and resilient plant that is well worth considering for your garden. Its low-growing habit and spiky flowers make it an ideal choice for rock gardens, and its ability to withstand harsh growing conditions make it a low-maintenance choice for gardeners. Whether you are looking for a plant to attract wildlife, use as a medicinal plant, or simply to add to your garden, highland cudweed is a great choice.

In addition to its versatility and resilience, highland cudweed is also an important plant for the environment. As a member of the aster family, it is a pollinator-friendly plant that provides important habitats for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. These pollinators are essential for the health of our ecosystems, as they play a crucial role in the pollination of other plants, including many of our food crops.

Another important environmental benefit of highland cudweed is its ability to help control soil erosion. The plant has a strong root system that helps to anchor the soil in place, preventing erosion and helping to stabilize the soil. This makes it a great choice for gardens and landscapes that are prone to soil erosion, such as those located on slopes or near water sources.

If you are looking to add highland cudweed to your garden, it is important to choose the right location for the plant. As mentioned, it is well-suited to rock gardens, and can also be grown in full sun or partial shade. It prefers well-draining soil, and will not tolerate soil that is consistently wet or damp.

When planting highland cudweed, it is important to give it enough space to grow. The plant will spread slowly over time, so it is best to plant it in groups, rather than as individual plants. This will help to create a dense cover of foliage, which will be more attractive and will help to prevent weeds from establishing in the area.

Highland cudweed is an important plant that provides many benefits to both gardeners and the environment. Its versatility, resilience, and environmental benefits make it a great choice for any garden. Whether you are looking to attract wildlife, control soil erosion, or simply to add an interesting and low-maintenance plant to your garden, highland cudweed is an excellent choice.

One of the most interesting features of highland cudweed is its ability to store water in its leaves. This allows the plant to survive in areas where water is scarce, and to continue growing even during times of drought. The leaves are covered in fine, white hairs that act like a blanket, trapping moisture and preventing it from evaporating too quickly. This makes the plant well-suited to dry, rocky environments where water is often in short supply.

Another unique aspect of highland cudweed is its ability to colonize new areas. The plant is able to spread quickly, forming dense mats of foliage that can cover large areas. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who want to create a wildflower meadow, or who are looking to control weeds in an area. The dense cover of foliage created by highland cudweed will help to shade the soil and prevent other plants from establishing, making it an effective weed control tool.

In addition to its environmental benefits, highland cudweed is also a great plant for wildlife. As mentioned, the plant provides important habitats for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, and its seeds are a valuable food source for birds and small mammals. The dense cover of foliage created by highland cudweed also provides cover for wildlife, making it a great choice for wildlife gardens.

In conclusion, highland cudweed is a fascinating and unique plant that offers a wide range of benefits to gardeners and the environment. Whether you are looking to attract wildlife, control soil erosion, or simply to add an interesting and low-maintenance plant to your garden, highland cudweed is an excellent choice. With its hardiness, versatility, and environmental benefits, this plant is sure to make a great addition to any garden or landscape.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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