Origin of name:
oligo = few, sparse. pappus = fruit appendages in Asteraceae
Compact flower headsBright yellow bractsLong linear leaves
Perennial herb, stock stout, crowned with one or several leaf rosettes, flowering stems several, lateral to each rosette, 80-600 mm long, often decumbent at the base or ascending, commonly simple, sometimes forking once or twice near the base, more rarely near the apex, densely leafy. Radical leaves up to c. 100 x 2 (-3) mm, lingulate, linear, apex obtuse or subacute, base broad, clasping, both surfaces clothed in very close, silvery silky-felted indumentum, occasionally more woolly than silky; cauline leaves similar but smaller and decreasing rapidly in size upwards, spreading or more or less imbricate, enveloped in the same silvery, skin-like indumentum as the radical leaves and the stem. Heads homogamous, narrowly cylindric, 2.5-3.5 x 1.5-2 mm, very many in small corymbose clusters congested in a flattened spreading cymose corymb c. 20-40 mm across, the whole matted together below with closely interwoven wool. Involucral bracts in 3-4 series, subequal, loosely imbricate, outer brown or straw-coloured, inner tipped bright canary yellow, about equaling the flowers, not radiating, translucent. Receptacle shortly honeycombed. Flowers 10-13, yellow. Achenes 0.75 mm long, narrow, glabrous. Pappus bristles c. 5-7, delicate, tips shortly plumose, bases nude, not cohering.
Flowering between February and April.
Grows in poor stony grassland. At present, H. oligopappum is known from a few collections in New Hanover, Lion's River, Mpendhle and Camperdown districts in KwaZulu-Natal.
Distinguished from H. subglomeratum by its linear radical leaves up to c. 100 x 2 (-3) mm. In KwaZulu-Natal, there are consistently fewer flowers in the heads of H. subglomeratum than in those of H. oligopappum (4-8, not 10-13), but this distinction does not hold over the whole geographical range of H. subglomeratum. It may well be that H. oligopappum is no more than a minor variant of H. subglomeratum with narrow radical leaves.
Helichrysum oligopappum H. Bol. in Trans. S. Afr. phil. Soc. 18: 388 (1907); Moeser in Bot. Jb. 44: 249 (1910); Hilliard, Compositae in Natal 157 (1977).
Lectotype: KwaZulu-Natal, Great Noodsberg, Wood 4142 (BOL; E; K; NH; PRE, isolecto.).
Vouchers:Hilliard 4856 (E; K; NH; NU; PRE; SRGH); Wood 5280 (E; Z).