Felicia josephinae J.C. Manning & Goldblatt

Family: Asteraceae

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 October 2002.

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
September 2002



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