Felicia echinata is easy to recognize by its glossy leaves
that are edged with small white teeth and curved to form a sharp
tip. This prickly protection is most probably to discourage animals
and insects from taking a bite. It also gives this plant its name:
echinata, which means 'covered with prickles' in Latin. In
nature this felicia is frequently seen next to roads and on sandy
dunes along the coast of the eastern Cape from Mossel Bay to Port
Alfred, where it flowers from around April until October (autumn
to early summer). Here they grow with other herbaceous plants like
the Cape forget-me-not (Anchusa capensis), lobelias and gazanias.
echinata is an evergreen, much branched perennial that grows
to about 60 cm high. The branches are almost entirely covered with
the shiny, dark green leaves. The stiff little leaves are oval to
triangular in shape, pointing downwards away from the stem - almost
overlapping each other. The branches bend and turn, relaxing on
the ground and then turning up to the sun, each with 2 - 3 large
daisies at their tips.
The flowers are usually mauve with a bright yellow centre, but
white flowers are also occasionally found in the wild. Both forms
flower profusely for a few months from autumn to spring. After flowering
the flowers turn into fluffy seed heads. The seeds are light brown,
flat and oval shaped with a tuft of long hairs attached to the tip,
which allows them to be carried away on the breeze.
Growing Felicia echinata
This felicia is well suited to the waterwise garden, giving flower
colour for many months. The bright green, spiky leaves also add
interesting foliage texture throughout the year. Felicia echinata
will grow in almost any well-drained soil in a sunny position. This
plant can be considered tender to frost, and in very cold areas
it needs to be planted in a warm protected position.
the best display, plants should be grouped quite close together.
Both the mauve and white forms are commercially available and often
sold in 6-packs, which makes mass planting much easier. Felicia
echinata works best as a filler between longer lived plants
like restios or in short lived herbaceous displays. It also looks
good planted in rockeries and terraforce walls where the plants
hang down and soften the hard edges. They are excellent when planted
with large aloes such as Aloe arborescens and Aloe succotrina,
pig's ears (Cotyledon orbiculata) and vygies, where they
serve to soften the succulents. The foliage also contrasts well
with the long linear leaves of bulbous plants such as Chasmanthe,
Aristea and Dietes or shrubs such as the kruidjie-roer-my-nie
(Melianthus major) with its large grey leaves. In mass plantings
it makes a good groundcover, but starts to look brown and leggy
after about 4 years. Light pruning after flowering will help to
keep the plants more compact and vigorous.
Felicia echinata can be propagated by cuttings or seed.
New plants are easy to produce from cuttings, taken at almost any
time of the year, but best in spring or autumn. Rooting is rapid
and the new plants will be ready for planting within a few months.
Occasionally branches root where they touch the ground. Seed can
be sown in autumn or spring. The seeds germinate within about 3
weeks and produce seedlings that will flower the next season.
There are more than 85 species of Felicia found from southern
and tropical Africa to Arabia.
- Goldblatt, P. & Manning, J., 2000, Cape Plants, A Conspectus
of the Cape Flora of South Africa, NBI, Pretoria & Missouri
Botanical Garden Press, Missouri
- Eliovson, Sima, 1973, South African Wild Flowers for the Garden,
- Gledhill,Eily, 1981, Eastern Cape Veld Flowers, Dept.
Nature Conservation, Cape Town.
Liesl van der Walt