Enjoy the medicinal uses and health benefits of pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) and learn how to identify and forage for this striking, graceful wildflower which has great use in the home apothecary.
Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)
Herbal Energetics: cool/dry
Therapeutic Actions: antibacterial, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, antispetic, antiviral, astringent, diaphoretic, expectorat, sedative, vulnerary
It isn’t hard to fall in love with pearly everlasting.
With a common name that evokes magic and wonder, cool, graceful foliage, tiny flowers, and a soft, sweet mild woodsy aroma — pearly everlasting is a wildflower that catches one’s attention. Not with flashy color or bold foliage, but rather its causal beauty.
It is enough to make one pull over the truck to harvest a posy or two. Maybe more. As I did not too many years ago. And was greeted by a great mountain lion bounding off the embankment filled with Anaphalis maragritacea, darting across the dusty roadway and down the wooded mountainside. Pearly everlasting will forever and always be associated with the adrenaline rush I received that day. It is perhaps the day that I also decided to never let my guard down too much, not to lose myself entirely to the practice of foraging. Nature is wild, as it should be, and it behooves of us to respect it.
I am a trained herbalist with a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, I am not, however, a doctor. Posts in this blog are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before using any herbs, check for appropriate dosage, drug interactions, and contraindications. Information contained herein is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prescribe. Please consult your primary care physician regarding your specific health concerns.
Medicinal Uses of Pearly Everlasting
Pearly everlasting is a native plant of the North America, and as such has a long history of use by native peoples and early settler. An herb the offers a multitude of benefits, I am surprised it an underused herb in the home apothecary. I often think of pearly in the early fall when the first sign of sinus congestion from a looming cold takes hold, but also again in spring when seasonal allergies leave sinuses full and drippy. As a tea or steam, pearly everlasting helps clear airways and arrest excessive mucus discharge. It is also an appropriate herb for a wet, chesty cough with persistent throat tickle and irritation. When a stodgy fever with slight chills persists, a hot bath or sauna infused with loads of pearly will encourage perspiration and a releasing of the achy-ness and pain associated with colds and flu. Pearly everlasting was even used as a herbal smoke for respiratory complaints like bronchitis and pneumonia, and as a tobacco substitute.
Another traditional use of Anaphalis margaritacea it to free stiff, rheumatic joints. Applied with moist heat such as with a poultice or herbal steam, this herb has been associated with improved range of motion. This anti-inflammatory action combined with decreased joint stiffness could be very promising for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
Pearly everlasting also has great affinity for the digestive system. The cooling, astringent properties of this herb make it ideal when there is excess mucus in the stomach that causes one to cough and clear their throat frequently, excess heat and ulcer conditions, food poisoning, and diarrhea.
Another common traditional use for pearly everlasting is for would care. As an astringent antiseptic, pearly will encourage clean, quick healing and prompt wound closure. Applied to boils and blisters it is also reduce the size and expedite healing in these areas.
How to Identify, Forage & Harvest Anaphalis margaritacea
Anaphalis maragitacea is probably of of the easier herbs to identify in the wild landscape. Native to North America, is is found throughout most of the continent, with the exception of the humid southeast. When foraging for pearly everlasting, here are some of the identifying characteristics one should consider:
- tends to grow in higher elevations
- like rocky, even disturbed soils
- grows in full sun to light shade; highly adaptable.
- will tolerate cool condition, such as coastal mountains
- often found on mountain roadside or in clear cuts
- slender, wooly stems and lance-shaped foliage are a soothing grey-green color, with lighter, downy underside
- leaves are arranged alternately on a stem that can grow up to 3′ tall in certain conditions (I find plants range 18″-24″ tall on average in the PNW).
- foliage and flowers emit as slightly sweet, woodsy aroma
- white, pearl-like flower buds emerge early summer; as the flower matures white petal-like bracts reveal a central yellow orange center characteristic of many members of the Asteraceae family of plant.
Pearly everlasting is best harvested mid summer before the flower buds fully mature. The herb dries beautifully, retaining much of its color and aroma for a considerable length of time. Store dried pearly everlasting in a tightly lidded jar or container in a cool spot out of direct sunlight. Pearly everlasting can be tinctured fresh, or dried for oil infusions as well.
Apothecary Uses for Pearly Everlasting
Pearly everlasting had be used by home herbalists as a:
- tea or infusion
- herbal steam
- herbal smoke
- herbals plaster or poultice
- sauna or tub soak
- infused oil
Safety, Dosage & Precautions
Like many native and traditional herbs, there are not many recommendations about pearly safety and dosage. It is widely considered a safe botanical by herbalists, but one should also proceed with caution when using a new herb. Anaphalis margaritacea should not be used by nursing women as it could reduce milk flow. If you are pregnant, taking prescription medication or have a chronic illness, please consult your physician before using this or any other herb.
(n.d.). Retrieved from https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=ANMA
Nor-ent-kaurane diterpenes and hydroxylactones from … (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031942204003760
U.S. Forest Service. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/anaphalis_margaritacea.shtml