Plants 1.5-5 dm; herbage white to brownish tomentose, some stellate hairs with 1 long ray. Leaves: petiole 1.5-3.5 mm; leaves of main stems 1-3(-4) × 1.5-3.5 (-5) cm; blade with midvein prominent abaxially, channeled adaxially, margins usually strongly revolute. Staminate flowers deciduous after anthesis. Fruiting bracts 4-7.5 mm, margins connate proximally. Utricles 2.5-3.5 mm, densely pubescent. 2n = 18, 36.
Flowering May-Jul, fruiting through Sep. Foothills and flats, usually in relatively low-alkaline soils; 500-2100 m; Alta., Man., Sask., Yukon; Ariz., Calif., Colo., Idaho, Kans., Mont., Nebr., Nev., N.Mex., N.Dak., Okla., Oreg., S.Dak., Tex., Utah, Wash., Wyo.; n Mexico.
Krascheninnikovia lanata often forms pure stands. It occurs throughout the intermountain region except in the northwest corner of central Oregon. It is called winterfat because of its nutritional importance for domestic livestock, especially sheep.
Benson and Darrow 1981, Powell 1998, FNA 2006, Kearney and Peebles 1969, Carter 2012
Common Name: winterfat Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Subshrub General: Shrub 2-8 dm tall, with white to brownish tomentose herbage, with some stellate and simple hairs. Leaves: Alternate, clustered, linear-lanceolate 1.5-3 cm, sessile or on short petioles up to 3 mm, prominent midvein on underside of leaf, channeled on top, margins strongly revolute, leaves densely covered in stellate hairs. Flowers: Flowers in axillary clusters and terminal spikelike panicles, covered in long straight white hairs; often dioecious, but rarely monoecious; lacking petals; staminate flowers deciduous after anthesis, staminate flowers enclosed by sepals; pistillate flowers lacking sepals but enclosed by 2 bracts with long white hairs. Fruits: Utricle 3 mm, flat, ovate, densely pubescent with 2 styles. Ecology: Found slopes and plains, sometimes on alkaline soils from 2,000-7,000 ft (610-2134 m); in the southwest it is more commonly found at 4,500-6,500 ft (1372-1981 m); flowers May-October. Distribution: Most of western N. Amer.; From the Yukon, CAN south to n MEX and east to OK and TX. Notes: A widespread diecious subshrub conspicuous by its whitish-green-blue color due to the densely-matted, soft, long white tangled hairs (tomentose) all over; it has linear leaves, and also distinct are the densely-flowered terminal inflorescences which resemble spikes, the female ones with dense, spreading white hairs giving the plant a snowy look. Ethnobotany: Used for fevers, for burns, sore muscles, for sores and boils, applied to poison ivy rashes, as an eye medicine, a dermatological aid, an eye medicine, as forage, and ceremonially. Etymology: Krascheninnikovia is named for the Russian botanist Stepan Petrovich Krascheninnikov (1713-1755), while lanata means covered with long, woolly hair. Synonyms: Ceratoides lanata, Ceratoides lanata var. ruinina, Ceratoides lanata var. subspinosa, Eurotia lanata, Eurotia lanata var. subspinosa Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015, AHazelton 2015