There are some plants whose leaves and stems are not the usual glossy green, but which are covered in very fine white hairs, or white fuzz. One example I have right now in my kitchen would be sage.

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I am sure that there is a word in the English language which describes the appearance of such plants (not just fuzzy plants, but specifically ones covered in white fuzz). But I don't remember the word. Does someone know it?

  • Is there an equivalent word in another language you can think of?
    – tenfour
    Mar 5, 2011 at 14:05
  • No, I only have ever read it in English. I remember looking it up in a dictionary and being amazed at the existence of such a specific word.
    – rumtscho
    Mar 5, 2011 at 14:28
  • Dusty or mouldy ;)
    – mplungjan
    Mar 5, 2011 at 16:26
  • 1
    @mplungjan I am enough of a hobby cook for my hair to stand on end when I hear such talk of my herbs. Let's call the ones on the back shelves "secondary canescent" instead.
    – rumtscho
    Mar 6, 2011 at 13:29

6 Answers 6


You could try hoary, canescent, or incanous.

  • 1
    Thank you, this is perfect! It was "canescent" I was looking for, didn't know the others. How did you find them so quick, did you know them or is there some kind of reverse dictionary available where I could put a description and get the word?
    – rumtscho
    Mar 5, 2011 at 14:29
  • I knew hoary and canescent so I just googled those words and added incanous to the list. But you can use a reverse dictionary as well. A search of "reverse dictionary" will turn up several serviceable ones.
    – Robusto
    Mar 5, 2011 at 14:50

Pubescence is the term used for plants.

Botany & Zoology soft down on the leaves and stems of plants or on various parts of animals, especially insects.

  • Whilst you are technically correct (assuming that by 'the term used for plants' you mean 'the term used for the hairiness/fuzziness of plants'), the OP asked specifically for fine white hairs, not hairs in general (hence my downvote). May 29, 2013 at 21:06
  • adj. puberelent covered with fine soft hairs or down
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 27, 2017 at 23:22

'Pubescent' is technically correct. "Hairy" is actually used in some botanical texts, although of course plants do not have hair as in the mammalian sense. Also "downy" -- fine white hairs on leaves. Another scientific term is sericeous" -- silky with dense appressed hairs.


Trichome, meaning "hair", are fine outgrowths or appendages on plants, algae, lichens, and certain protists. They are of diverse structure and function. Examples are hairs, glandular hairs, scales, and papillae. - Wikipedia

  • 2
    Good answer. The defining adjectives are listed on the listed website. They are definitely technical and usually, the leaves of such plants are simply called "hairy."
    – Greybeard
    May 24, 2020 at 10:42

You could possibly be looking for the world "Pilose", my best guess as it's used in the sphere of botany quite a bit.

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    Welcome to EL&U. Please improve your answer by adding links to references to the word you're suggesting. Dec 27, 2017 at 21:32

Just to round things out - lanate

: covered with fine hair or hairlike filaments : woolly

"Lanate." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 27 Dec. 2017.

Lamb's-ear plants are perennial herbs usually densely covered with gray or silver-white, silky-lanate hairs. They are named lamb's ears because of the leaves curved shape and white, soft, fur-like hair coating.

Stachys byzantina: Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stachys_byzantina

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