Many hikers have probably seen this strange looking plant growing
on the rocks in the Cape Mountains and wondered what it is. It looks
very much like a moss and often has a similar habit, yet it bears
white flowers. Can it be a daisy?
Small tufted, copiously branched moss-like plants up to 70 mm tall.
Branches densely leafy throughout. Leaves sessile, linear. Flower
heads radiate with 6-7 white ray florets and 7-9 wine-red disc florets.
Bracts brown. Pappus present, white, plumose.
Flowering October to January, occasionally in August, September
Distributed in the Western Cape, ranging as far north as the Cederberg
and eastward to the Klein Swartberg. It grows in shallow soil in
rock crevices at altitudes ranging from sea level to 2 250 m. The
plants often grow on exposed rocks and can tolerate extreme climatic
conditions: strong winds, cold, snow and drought.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The name Bryomorphe is from the Greek 'bryon': moss, and
'morphe': form. An 'Alpine' plant with moss-like habit (Jackson,
This is a monotypic genus also known under more recent names such
as B. zeyheri and B. lycopodioides.
Little is known about pollination. Plants are specially adapted
to survive in extreme conditions. They are well anchored in rock
crevices, have a compact streamline growth form, narrow leaves that
are densely packed and have a densely woven hair-skin to prevent
water loss. Seeds are probably dispersed by wind.
Uses and cultural aspects
If anyone can manage to cultivate this plant it will be a big attraction
for alpine gardeners. To see it in its true beauty, have a look
at the magnificent photograph in the book of Patterson-Jones (1997).
Plants are not known in cultivation.
- Jackson, WPU. 1990. Origins and meanings of names of South
African plant genera. UCT Ecolab, c/o Botany Department, Rondebosch.
- Koekemoer, M. Unpublished PhD thesis (RAU). 2002. Systematics
of the Relhaniina (Asteraceae - Gnaphalieae).
- Patterson-Jones, C. 1997. The Cape Floral Kingdom. New
Holland Ltd., Cape Town. ISBN 1-85368-481-3.