Photo: P Bester


Photo: P Bester


Common names:

Speelwonderboom (A), Phate-ea-naha (SS), boriba, botsiki-nyane, lelula-phooko, moriri-oa-lefatse

Origin of name:

caespititium = growing in clumps, spreading in carpet like patches

Diagnostic characters:

Mat-forming, prostrate, densely branched
Reduced needle-like leaves
Numerous heads


Prostrate perennial mat-forming herb, profusely branched, densely tufted, branchlets c. 10 mm tall, closely leafy. Leaves more or less patent, up to c. 5-10 x 0.5 mm, linear, subacute or obtuse, base broad, clasping, margins revolute, both surfaces enveloped in silvery 'tissue-paper-like' indumentum breaking down to wool, rarely loosely woolly, dotted with orange glands. Heads homogamous, cylindric-turbinate, c. 5 x 2 mm, solitary to several clustered at the branchlet tips. Involucral bracts in c. 6 series, outermost short, pellucid, webbed together and to the surrounding leaves with wool, persistent, inner series subequal, tips opaque white or sometimes pale pink, slightly exceeding the flowers, minutely radiating, soon deciduous. Receptacle with flattened tubercles. Flowers 11-24, yellow, often tipped pink. Achenes 0.75 mm, elliptic, with myxogenic duplex hairs. Pappus bristles many, equaling corolla, scabrid, bases with minute patent cilia not cohering.

Flowering between August and December.


Forms big mats on bare or sparsely grassed areas, often on disturbed sites.  From about Kuruman and Griqualand West in the Northern Cape to the Free State, Lesotho, NE Cape, E Griqualand and KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, Gauteng and Limpopo (Highveld, Drakensberg, Waterberg, Soutpansberg) between c. 650 and 1 900 m above sea level. Also in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe.

Grassland and Savanna Biomes.



Closely allied to H. asperum but distinguished by its different habit, minutely radiating involucral bracts, and often more flowers in the head. Distinguished from H. lineare by its caespitose habit, narrower leaves, larger heads with usually more flowers but fewer heads clustered together, and minutely radiating bracts. Sometimes confused with H. paronychioides.



Helichrysum caespititium (DC.) Harv. in F.C. 3: 217 (1865); Moeser in Bot. Jb. 44: 299 (1910); Hilliard, Compositae in Natal 209 (1977).



Tambukiland, Klipplaat River, Shiloh, Ecklon 1503 (not Dr�ge, as quoted by DC.) (G-DC, holo.; E, iso.).



H. lineare DC. var. caespititium DC., Prodr. 6: 172 (1838).

H. metalasioides DC., Prodr. 6: 171 (1838) p.p. quoad Burchell 2272 (G-DC).



Acocks 10550 (PRE); Dieterlen 139 (PRE; SAM); Galpin 9460 (PRE); Wilms 701 (PRE).