Common names:

Tiny snowball everlasting, mollepelle (SS)

Origin of name:

chionosphaerum = snow, spherical (Greek).  Possibly alluding to the white involucral bracts.

Diagnostic characters:

Large solitary heads
White bracts


Mat-forming perennial herb or subshrub, stock stout, woody, up to 10 mm diam., stems many, well-branched, branches up to 5 mm diam., prostrate, older parts rooting, young parts leafy, leaves more or less rosetted when branchlets very short. Leaves 10�100 x 1.5�3 (�5) mm, linear or linear-lanceolate, upper surface sometimes greyish-white or white-felted, but usually only glandular-pubescent, lower surface sometimes silky-woolly or silky-felted, but usually at maturity wool confined to the margins and 3 parallel veins, margins slightly involute. Heads homogamous, campanulate, 7�12 (�15) mm long, 12�25 mm across the fully radiating bracts, solitary or up to 4 clustered at the tips of erect leafy stems up to 150 mm tall. Involucral bracts in c. 6 series, graded, loosely imbricate, about equaling flowers, glossy white, occasionally washed palest yellowish brown outside. Receptacle shortly honeycombed. Flowers 71�154, yellow. Achenes c. 1.25 mm, barrel-shaped, with myxogenic duplex hairs. Pappus bristles many, equaling corolla, scabrid, bases cohering strongly by patent cilia.

Flowers from July to December.


Forms large, flowery mats up to a meter or more across, in stony grassland, over rock sheets, or draped over low rock or earth cliffs and big boulders, sometimes in tufts in the cracks of rock pavements. Recorded from Inyangani in the E. highlands of Zimbabwe, the E. highlands of Gauteng, the Witwatersrand and the Magaliesberg, W. Swaziland, KwaZulu-Natal from c. 500-2 250 m, but commoner above c. 1 200 m, the mountainous NE. corner of the Free State, Lesotho, Transkei, and NE. Cape on the Witteberg, Drakensberg, Stormberg and Katberg.

Savanna, Grassland and Thicket Biomes.



Displays considerable variation in leaf length and degree of woolliness. Some variation may be induced by growing conditions: plants on rock sheets for instance often have much shorter leaves than nearby plants in grassland.



Helichrysum chionosphaerum DC., Prodr. 6: 174 (1838); Harv. in F.C. 3: 221 (1865); Moeser in Bot. Jb. 44: 317 (1910); Hilliard, Compositae in Natal 218 (1977).



Lectotype: Cape, Stormberg, Dr�ge 3743 quoted as Ecklon (G-DC; TCD, isolecto.).



Gnaphalium chionosphaerum (DC.) Sch. Bip. in Bot. Ztg 3: 170 (1845).

Helichrysum randii S. Moore in J. Bot., Lond., 41: 132 (1903); Moeser in Bot. Jb. 44: 317 (1910). Type: near Johannesburg, Rand 889 (BM, holo.).

H. pondoense Schltr. in Bot. Jb. 40: 95 (1908). Types: Natal, Alexandra County, 'Fairfield', Rudatis 98; Cape, Pondoland, Dorkin, Bachmann 1567.



Codd3366 (NU; PRE); Flanagan 1596 (NU); Hilliard & Burtt 5873 (E; K; NH; NU; S); Hoener 1686 (E; NU); Wright 190 (E; K; M; NH; NU).