Q: I grew up knowing about the wild plant we called rabbit tobacco but I have just now discovered how to use it in decorations. It’s fragrance is amazing! What more can you tell me about this wild herb?
A: I, too, grew up familiar with rabbit tobacco. I smoked it occasionally as a kid but the resulting headache dissuaded me from regular use. There are several species of rabbit tobacco, which is also called cudweed.
Gnaphalium spicatum, shiny cudweed, develops from a distinct round silver-white rosette of leaves that grows flat on the ground. Gnaphalium purpureum, purple cudweed, has the gray-white narrow leaves along the stem that you probably think of as rabbit tobacco.
All cudweeds grow as annual or biennial plants. The best way to propagate more is to collect seeds from mature flower heads in fall and plant them in spring.
If the plant is objectionable in your lawn, increased fertilization will usually control it. Cudweed is not a strong competitor to vigorous grass growth. Digging or pulling also works.