Origin of name:
elegantissimus /-a/-um = very elegant, most elegant
Large solitary headsWhite bractsLeaves coarsely hairy
Stout biennial herb, stem up to c. 1 m high, simple below the inflorescence branches, glandular pubescent, sometimes cobwebby as well, leafy throughout. Radical leaves up to 150 x 40 mm, oval-oblong, slightly narrowed to the base, glandular above, woolly or cobwebby below; cauline leaves up to c. 90 x 30 mm, diminishing in size upwards, oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate, apex acute to acuminate, base broad, cordate-clasping, shortly decurrent in lower leaves, both surfaces glandular-pubescent. Heads heterogamous, depressed-globose, c. 20�25 mm across the radiating involucral bracts, many in a large, spreading leafy corymbose panicle. Involucral bracts in c. 10 series, slightly graded, imbricate, much exceeding flowers, acute, glossy, white sometimes tipped crimson or flushed pink, radiating. Receptacle nearly smooth. Flowers c. 362�745, 26�110 female, 336�635 homogamous. Achenes 0.75�1 mm long, barrel-shaped, glabrous. Pappus bristles many, equaling corolla, tips subplumose, bases with patent cilia, not cohering.
Flowers between January and April.
Grows in scrubby growth on mountain slopes and along river banks. Recorded only from the Witteberg near Lady Grey in the Eastern Cape, the nearby heights above the Kraai River, the southern corner of Lesotho in Mohaleshoek and Quthing districts, and Bulwer in KwaZulu-Natal, between c. 1 370 and 2 470 m.
The white or pink and white heads make H. elegantissimum distinctive among its yellow-headed allies, but it is rarely collected.
Helichrysum elegantissimum DC., Prodr. 6: 179 (1838); Harv. in F.C. 3: 229 (1865); Moeser in Bot. Jb. 44: 336 (1910); Hilliard, Compositae in Natal 241 (1977).
Western Cape, Witteberg, Dr�ge 3736 (G-DC, holo.; BM; E; K; S; SAM; TCD; fragment PRE, iso.).
Gnaphalium elegantissimum (DC.) Sch. Bip. in Bot. Ztg 3: 170 (1854).
Dieterlen 1210 (PRE; SAM); Galpin 6679 (BOL; PRE); Haygarth s.n. (NH); Hilliard & Burtt 12254 (E; NU); Nordenstam 2066 (LD; NU).