This charming, low-growing annual has only recently been named
and described (Bothalia
October 2002), although it was first collected in 1933 by C
Louis Leipoldt the well known poet, author, medical practioner and
plant collector. It has been named after Dr Josephine (Jo) Beyers,
assistant curator of the Compton Herbarium.
Felicia is a genus of 83 species of annuals, perennials
and shrubs. The genus is centred in southern Africa but a few species
extend into tropical Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Felicia
is well represented by 54 species in the Cape Floral Region.
This distinctive, highly floriferous species is readily distinguished
from all other species of Felicia by its broad, white or
cream-coloured rays and deep purple disc. The rounded plants become
covered with dainty white flowerheads that in their broad rays and
small, convex, purple discs are quite unlike any other species of
Felicia. Most species have blue or mauve to pink rays (rarely
white or yellow) and yellow disc florets. F.
heterophylla is the only other species to have similar coloured
disc florets. Felicia josephinae is an annual herb, growing
to 200mm high and branching near the base. These plants occur in
a winter rainfall zone germinate when the rainy season starts in
autumn and flower in spring (September and October).
Felicia josephinae has only been collected from a small
area along the Western Cape coast between Elands Bay and Lambert's
Bay. It occurs on hills and dunes as part of the Sandveld Succulent
Karoo vegetation of the area. During the two decades following its
first collection in 1933, a handful of further collections were
made by various Cape botanists, all from the same small stretch
of country between Elands Bay and Lambert's Bay. These early collections
were all identified either as a new species or, rather tentatively,
as a variant of Felicia heterophylla. For a full description
of the species, please see the article by Dr J C Manning in Bothalia
Growing Felicia josephinae.
This plant is not yet in general cultivation, but early attempts
to grow the plant from seed have been very successful. Several other
species of Felicia such as F.echinata
and F.elongata are to be
found in gardens growing South African plants and this species looks
set to join their ranks in the future.
Compiled by Yvonne Reynolds
From material provided by Dr J C Manning