Origin of name:

decorus /-a/-um = attractive, decorative

Diagnostic characters:

Bright yellow bracts
Large solitary heads in branched inflorescence
Hairy-woolly plant


Biennial or short-lived perennial herb up to 1.3 m tall, stem stout (base up to 10 mm diam.), usually simple below the inflorescence branches, sometimes forking once or twice near the base, thinly greyish-white woolly, leafy. Radical leaves rosetted in the first year of growth, wanting at flowering, up to 150 x 30 mm, elliptic, narrowed to a broad clasping base, apex obtuse or subacute, apiculate, both surfaces thinly greyish-white woolly; cauline leaves up to 80 x 30 mm, diminishing in size upwards, oblong-lanceolate or elliptic-lanceolate, apex usually acute, base clasping, all but the uppermost at least shortly decurrent, upper surface glandular-setose, thinly cobwebby, lower thinly greyish-white woolly. Heads heterogamous, depressed-globose, c. 25�32 mm across the radiating bracts, many in a large corymbose panicle. Involucral bracts in c. 9 series, graded, imbricate, much exceeding the flowers, acute, glossy, bright yellow, radiating. Receptacle shortly honeycombed. Flowers c. 900�1 260, 35�110 female, 850�1150 homogamous, yellow. Achenes 1 mm long, barrel-shaped, obscurely ribbed, glabrous. Pappus bristles many, equaling corolla, tips barbellate, bases sometimes cohering lightly by patent cilia.


Flowering mainly between November and April.


Grows in sandy grassland or open woodland from near sea level to c. 900 m. Ranges from about Inhambane in Mozambique to the mouth of the Bashee River in the Transkei, also on the Lebombo Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland.

Grassland and Savanna Biomes.


The chief distinguishing mark of H. decorum is its oblong or elliptic-oblong leaves, generally broadest in the upper half, cobwebby above, tomentose below, most shortly decurrent on the stem. It lacks the persistent foetid odour of H. foetidum with which it is often confused, and the heads are larger.




Helichrysum decorum DC., Prodr. 6: 188 (1838); Harv. in F.C. 3: 232 (1865); Moeser in Bot. Jb. 44: 336 (1910); Hilliard, Compositae in Natal 245 (1977).



KwaZulu-Natal, Port Natal [Durban], Dr�ge 5022 (G-DC, holo.).



Gnaphalium decorum (DC.) Sch. Bip. in Bot. Ztg 3: 171 (1845).



Bayliss 2198 (NBG); Hilliard 4896 (E; NU); Pooley 234 (E; K; NH; NU; S)