This showy annual creates sheets of brilliant orange when it flowers
in Namaqualand in early spring, drawing visitors from near and far.
It is a member of the daisy family.
Asteraceae is one of the largest families of the flowering plants
in the world. It contains predominantly herbaceous plants although
there are almost 40 species in southern Africa that reach tree size.
Family members are characterised by daisy-type flowers. Well-known
members are sunflowers, blackjacks and cosmos.
D. sinuata is an annual that grows up to 300 mm tall. The
leaves are light green when mature with shallowly lobed margins.
They are slender, spoon-shaped, reaching up to 80 mm long. The stems
are reddish in colour and are often covered by the masses of leaves
around them. The Namaqualand or African daisy is a particularly
attractive species of the genus Dimorphotheca, with remarkably big
orange flowers that have orange centres (sometimes they may be yellow,
depending on the locality). They need full sun to open and they
always face the sun. Around the centre at the bottom of the petals
is a narrow, greenish mauve ring. The flowering time is mid-winter
to mid-autumn. The flowers are up to 80 mm across and are borne
singularly at the tip of each branch. Selected forms of Namaqualand
daisies are available for cultivation in a variety of shades such
as orange, cream, yellow and salmon. The seeds that appear soon
after the flowers wilt are brownish and papery. They are easily
blown away by the wind, so they need to be collected as early as
Dimorphotheca sinuata grows naturally in the winter rainfall
areas of the country, usually in sandy places in Namaqualand and
also in Namibia.
The genus name Dimorpotheca is derived from Greek dis
(twice), morphe (shape) and theka (a fruit), referring
to the different kinds of seeds produced by the ray and the disc
Growing Dimorphotheca sinuata
Namaqualand daisies are one of the loveliest garden plants. The
striking orange flowers attract butterflies into the garden. Bees
love this plant as they collect the nectar from the flowers. Namaqualand
daisies will bring colour to the garden. They are useful for rock
gardens, dry banks and the front row of borders. They are, however,
not good for cut flowers as they close on cloudy days and remain
closed indoors. There are no known medicinal properties of this
The African daisy is easily grown from seeds. In cool areas they
may be sown in late autumn or early winter in warmer areas. They
can be sown directly in prepared beds on a calm day when the wind
will not blow the papery seeds away. For best results, prepare the
beds with compost and remove clods and stones to make a fine bed.
(They also grow very well in poor, sandy soils.) Sow thickly and
rake lightly to cover the seeds to prevent them being blown or washed
away. Keep beds moist to trigger germination. Seeds take four to
ten days to germinate. Seedlings can be thinned or pricked out when
they are about 5 cm tall. Young plants must also be kept moist until
they reach the height of about 10 cm. They take approximately three
months to flower. Seed is widely available in nurseries and supermarkets
in South Africa.
is another attractive spring flowering annual related to the African
- PIENAAR, K. 1994. The ultimate southern African gardening book.
Southern Book Publishers, Halfway House, Gauteng, South Africa
- VAN DER SPUY, U. 1971. Wild flowers of South Africa for the
garden. Hugh Keartlands Publishers, Johannesburg.
- JOFFE, P. 1993. The gardeners guide to South African plants.
Tafelberg Publishers, Cape Town.
By Mhlonishwa D. Dlamini
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens