Origin of name:

heliantus = sunflower
folium = leaflet

Diagnostic characters:

Small heads with white bracts
Compact but branched inflorescences
Leaf tip narrowly pointed
Leaf base wide (auricled)


Diffuse herb up to 1 m high. Stems long, thin, woody, brittle, thinly greyish-white woolly, closely or distantly leafy. Leaves mostly 10-20 x 3-5 mm, smaller upwards, lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, spreading or later deflexed, apex subacute to very acute, mucronate, base broad, subcordate-clasping, margins often somewhat reflexed, crisped or not, both surfaces thinly greyish-white woolly, upper sometimes more or less glabrescent. Heads heterogamous, c. 2.5 x 2 mm, cylindric, base slightly woolly, many in compact terminal corymbose panicles. Involucral bracts in 4 series, graded, imbricate, inner about equaling flowers, oblong, silvery pellucid, tips rounded, opaque milk-white, rarely tinged pink, crisped, minutely radiating. Receptacle with fimbrils exceeding the ovaries. Flowers 12-21, 3-7 female, 8-14 homogamous. Achenes 0.5 mm long, cylindric, glabrous. Pappus bristles many, equaling corolla, scabrid, bases cohering by patent cilia.

Flowering in December and January.


Favours streambanks or other damp places in mountain kloofs or on slopes. On the Cape mountains from the Cedarberg south to the Peninsula and Caledon division and east to the Swartberg and the coastal ranges as far as Uitenhage, northwards to Nieuwoudtville.

Fynbos Biome.



Helichrysum helianthemifolium (L.) D. Don in Sweet, Hort. Brit. 223 (1826), in Loudon, Hort. Brit. 342 (1830); Hilliard & Burtt in Notes R. bot. Gdn Edinb. 32: 350 (1973).



Gnaphalium africanum floribus minimis albicantibus Volckamer, Fl. Noribergensis 194 cum tab. (1700.)



Gnaphalium helianthemifolium L., Sp. Pl. 851 (1753); edn 2, 1218 (1763), excl. descr. add.

G. serratum L., Pl. Rar. Afr. (1760), Amoen. Acad. 6: 98 (1763); Burm., Rar. Afr. Pl. t. 76, fig 3 (1738). Type: Cape of Good Hope, Oldenland in herbarium Burmann (G, holo.).

G. capitellatum Thunb., Prodr. 150 (1800), Fl. Cap. 653 (1823). Helichrysum capitellatum (Thunb.) Less., Syn. Comp. 305 (1832); DC., Prodr. 6: 206 (1838); Harv. in F.C. 3: 250 (1865); Moeser in Bot. Jb, 44: 281 (1910); Levyns in Adamson & Salter, Fl. Cape Penins. 784 (1950). Type: Cape, French Hoek, Thunberg (sheet 19110, UPS, holo.).

H. capitellatum var. mollius DC., Prodr. 6: 206 (1838). Lectotype: Cape, Uniondale, between Haarlem and Avontuur, Burchell 5061 (G-DC).



Esterhuysen 12405 (BOL; PRE); Nordenstam 7097 (E; S); Rogers 29237 (SAM); Taylor 4573 (PRE); Tyson 820 (SAM).