Helichrysum dasyanthum

(Willd.) Sweet

Family : Asteraceae (daisy family)
Common names : None recorded

Plants in flower

Like many other Helichrysum species, H. dasyanthum is an attractive silver-grey shrublet with striking, bright yellow flowers in summer.

Description
Helichrysum dasyanthum is a small, erect multistemmed shrub, 0.31.0 m high. The thin stems are covered with fine, long greyish white hairs that extend to the leaves. Leaves are usually 630 × 2.510.0 mm and become smaller towards the flower head, sessile (base attached directly to the stem) and oblong. Leaf margins are entire, surfaces are hairy and leaves end in acute to pointed apices.

Flowering time is from September to November. Individual, sessile yellow flowers are densely clustered in heads surrounded by involucral bracts which makes the head looks like one big flower. Individual inflorescences are 4 × 3 mm and arranged into a compound spike. Each flower has a pappus (cylindrical hairs above the ovary, an adaptation to seed dispersal by wind), anthers are arranged cylindrically around the style and the stigma is two lobed.

Flowerhead

Conservation status
Helichrysum dasyanthum is Red-Listed a Least Concern (LC) and is not threatened.

Distribution and habitat
Helichrysum dasyanthum occurs on the sand flats and slopes of the southwestern and southern Cape from Namaqualand to Calvinia, Clanwilliam, Worcester, Oudtshoorn and the Cape Peninsula. It often grows on the margins of dunes, in scrub and forest and at altitudes of 151 310 m.

Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Helichrysum is derived from the Greek words Helios, meaning sun, and chrysos, gold, which refers to the golden flower heads of many species in this genus. The species name dasyanthum means hairy flower, from the Greek dasys meaning hairy, and anthos meaning flower.

Ecology
During flowering time, like many other Asteraceae species, beneficial pollinating insects, including bees and butterflies, are attracted to the flowers.

Uses and cultural aspects
Helichrysum dasyanthum is not often cultivated, as other Helichrysum species are more desirable for horticulture. However, it is suitable to plant in small gardens, and adapted to coastal conditions of the southwestern Cape. It will serve well as a filler plant between fynbos species and other indigenous plantings.

Flwering in the garden

Growing Helichrysum dasyanthum

Helichrysum dasyanthum is easily propagated from tip or heel cuttings. Cuttings can be taken year round. The cutting material must be relatively firm, not too immature or soft. The use of a rooting hormone will be beneficial. Place cuttings in a well-drained rooting media such as river sand, silica grit or perlite, and water well. Place in a warm brightly lit area, but out of direct sunlight. Keep the cuttings moist, but not too wet so as not to encourage fungal growth. Cuttings should root within four weeks. Thereafter they can be allowed to grow and establish some roots before potting them up into suitable well-drained potting soil. Young plants can be kept potted initially and once established can be planted into the garden.

Seed can be sown in spring and will require smoke treatment for even germination. Once seedlings have developed four true leaves they can be transplanted and treated as young cuttings. Helichrysum species do not have many pests. In containers, mealy bug and the occasional worm could infest a plant. These can be treated with suitable pest controls or picked off by hand.

References and further reading

  • Hilliard O.M. 1983. Flora of Southern Africa . Volume 33 (part 7). Botanical Research Institute, Pretoria.
  • Manning, J. 2007. Field guide to Fynbos . Struik, Cape Town.

 

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Mpendulo Gabayi

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

June 2014

 

 

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