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everlasting or immortelle (ĭmˌôrtĕlˈ) [key], names for numerous plants characterized by papery or chaffy flowers that retain their form and often their color when dried and are used for winter bouquets and decorations. Everlastings are usually cut before fully mature and hung head downward to dry in an area away from direct light (to prevent bleaching). Many of the more popular everlastings are of the family Asteraceae (aster family), e.g., the strawflower, pearly everlasting ( Anaphalis ), winged everlasting ( Ammobium ), pussy toes ( Antennaria ), common immortelle ( Xeranthemum ), and species of Helipterum; the cockscomb and globe amaranth and the thrift (see leadwort) are also used. Several grasses, the bittersweet, and other plants are used as everlastings for their ornamental dried fruits.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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