I often think of this species as the dinosaur of the everlastings.
It is a strong rigid shrub with brilliant pink bracts and large
flower heads. It is common in the fynbos on mountain slopes in the
Western Cape and can easily be spotted from a distance.
are rigid, erect, single-stemmed, woody shrubs up to 1.2 m tall.
Main stems are up to 60 mm diameter. Branches are densely leafy
and also have numerous short leafy stalks at right angles to the
main branches. Main branches decrease in length from the base upwards
so that many plants resemble miniature Christmas trees. Leaves are
very small, knob-like. Flower heads, borne terminal on branches,
are up to 60 mm in diameter and contain 800 - 1000 individual flowers
with very showy bright pink bracts. The bracts fade to almost white
and become worn with age. Pappus is present and up to 150 pappus
bristles per flower have been counted. For more details about the
structure of these flowers see Asteraceae. Flowers are borne from
September to January.
Distributed throughout the Western Cape on mountain slopes and in
valleys, mostly on sandy soil and at altitudes ranging from sea
level to 1 500 m.
Derivation of name and historical aspects: The name Phaenocoma
is derived from the Greek 'phaino': to shine, and 'coma':
hair. This refers to the shiny bracts, which looks like a 'shiny
hairdo'. Jackson (1990) commented on the lack of hair on the
bracts but did not offer an alternative explanation.
Phaenocoma is a monotypic genus (only one species) restricted
to the Western Cape.
Monkey beetles are often found on the flower heads and can contribute
to pollination although they probably often only feed on the pollen.
Seed germination is slow but generally good. In trials done by myself
a 100% germination was achieved after 12 days.
Uses and cultural aspects: Nothing is known about this aspect.
Although the seeds germinate well I am not aware of plants raised
Growing Phaenocoma prolifera
The plant has potential as a garden plant or pot plant, but is
not often cultivated.
- Jackson, WPU. 1990. Origins and meanings of names of South
African plant genera. UCT Ecolab, c/o Botany Department, Rondebosch.
- Koekemoer, M. 2002. Systematics of the Relhaniina (Asteraceae
- Gnaphalieae).Unpublished PhD thesis (RAU).