When you look at this plant, you can see why its first name is Wooly. This small round plant looks like it is covered with fuzzy white wool. This wool is actually tiny hairs that protect it from cold in early spring and the hot sun in the summer. The hairs also help the plant to stay moist.
How it got its second name is not so obvious. It was once believed that cattle and sheep grazing on this plant would become infested with "little louse". Louse is the singular of lice. At one time powdered plants were used on hair and wigs to keep away lice. The word "wort" means "plant".
The Wooly Lousewort may grow to be 10" tall and have one to several stalks with thick, long stemmed, alternating basal leaves. The basal leaves have serrated leaflets that are kind of purple when young. They bloom in late May to late June with many pleasant smelling pink flowers. The Lousewort has a long tap root because of the habitat it grows in. You will find this plant in dry, stony tundra areas and mountains throughout most of Alaska.
Created by Kailey
Photos by Verna Pratt, used with permission, edited by Melissa and Kailey