Common names:

Imphepho (SS, X, Sw, Z), Hottentotskooigoed (A), Ingqunisa (Z)

Origin of name:

odoratissimum = most scented, sweet smelling, strongly scented

Diagnostic characters:

Bicoloured leaves, distinctly hairy below
Bright yellow bracts
Compact inflorescence
Leaves clasping the stem
Leaf venation distinctly 3-nerved


A much branched bushy or straggling aromatic perennial herb, stems often decumbent and rooting at the base and becoming woody there, erect or sprawling, glandular, generally thinly greyish-white woolly, wool sometimes wanting, very leafy, the branchlets becoming pedunculoid upwards with distant reduced leaves or bracts. Leaves very variable, 5�60 x 1.5�15 mm, linear-oblong, lanceolate, ungulate or spathulate, apex generally obtuse, sometimes acute, mucronate, base narrowed or broad, clasping, generally decurrent in long narrow or broad stem wings, wings sometimes wanting, glandular and setose-scabrid above, generally thinly or thickly greyish-white woolly on both surfaces, sometimes without wool or glabrescent above. Heads heterogamous, cylindric, c. 2.5�3 mm long, very many matted together with wool at the base in dense or loose, flattened or rounded, terminal cymose clusters. Involucral bracts closely imbricate, innermost about equaling the flowers, not radiating, pellucid, outer pale brown, inner bright or pale canary-yellow. Receptacle with fimbrils about equaling the ovaries. Flowers (3�) 7�15, (1�) 2�4 female, (2�) 5�11 homogamous, yellow. Achenes 0.75 mm, barrel-shaped, with duplex hairs. Pappus bristles many, scabrid, bases cohering by patent cilia.


Flowering recorded in all months, mainly from August to December in the Western Cape, January to June elsewhere.


Forms large clumps on grassy or rocky slopes and will also colonize bare areas such as roadside and pathside banks. Ranges from the Soutpansberg through the highlands of Limpopo and Mpumalanga and W. Swaziland to the Midlands and Uplands of KwaZulu-Natal, the NE. Free State, Lesotho, the Cape Drakensberg, the mountains and coastal areas of the Transkei and E. Cape thence across the Cape fold mountains as far as the Peninsula, the Cedarberg and the Gifberg in Vanrhynsdorp district. Also on the mountains in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and further north.


Savanna, Grassland, Fynbos and Thicket Biomes.



H. odoratissimum shows great variation in leaf size and indumentum; particularly robust plants with large leaves are found in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Swaziland, but these can be matched elsewhere in the geographical range of the species. The distinguishing features of H. odoratissimum are its leaves, generally broadest in the upper part, and decurrent on the stems in long wings, and the heterogamous heads with hairy achenes and pappus bristles cohering strongly by patent cilia. H.gymnocomum is very closely allied.



Helichrysum odoratissimum (L.) Sweet, Hort. Brit. 223 (1826); Less., Syn. Comp. 301 (1832); DC., Prodr. 6: 202 (1838); Harv. in F.C. 3: 245 (1865) incl. vars; Moeser in Bot. Jb. 44: 242 (1910); Hilliard & Burtt in Notes R. Bot. Gdn Edinb. 32: 353 (1973); Hilliard, Compositae in Natal 150 (1977).



Lectotype: Cape of Good Hope (LINN 989.48).



Gnaphalium odoratissimum L., Sp. Pl. 855 (1753), edn 2: 1196 (1763). G. odorum Salisb., Prodr. 192 (1796), nom. illegit. G. odoratum Thunb., Prodr. 150 (1800), Fl. Cap. 654 (1823), nom. illegit.

G. aureofulvum Berg., Descr. Pl. Cap. 257 (1767). Type: Cape of Good Hope, Grubb (STB, holo.).

G. pedunculare L., Mant. alt. 284 (1771). Helichrysum pedunculare (L.) DC., Prodr. 6: 198 (1838) quoad syn., excl. descript. Type: Cape of Good Hope (LINN 989.47). 

G. strigosum Thunb., Prodr. 150 (1800), Fl. Cap. 654 (1823). Type: hills near Cape Town, Thunberg (sheet 19266, UPS, holo.).

Helichrysum odoratissimum var. acuminatum DC., Prodr. 6: 202 (1838). Type: specimen received from Berlin (G-DC, holo.).

H. odoratissimum var. undulaefolium DC., l.c. Lectotype: Cape, Table Mountain, Dr�ge 5759 (G-DC; BM, isolecto.).

H. odoratissimum var. lanatum Sond. in F.C. 3: 245 (1865). Type: Cape, Uitenhage, Van Stadensberg, Oct., Zeyher 2874 (S, holo.; PRE; SAM, iso.).



Compton 19154 (NBG); Esterhuysen 22538 (BOL; PRE); Flanagan 366 (SAM); Galpin 594 (BOL; PRE); Hilliard & Burtt 10917 (E; K; M; MO; NU; PRE; S).