Origin of name:

platy = broad
pterum = wing

Diagnostic characters:

Large lanceolate leaves without hairs/wool
Large heads
Branched open compact inflorescence


Perennial herb with a woody tuber up to 60 mm diam., stems solitary or several together, erect to c. 1 m, simple, thinly white cottony, leafy particularly below, bracteate above. Leaves up to 250 x 80 mm, lower broadly elliptic, contracted to the broadly winged base, upper narrower, elliptic then lanceolate upwards, passing into bracts, apex acute, base broad, clasping, decurrent in long conspicuous stem wings, upper surface thinly and harshly pubescent, lower more markedly so particularly on the nerves, triplinerved, or 5-nerved in the broadest leaves. Heads homogamous, campanulate, c. 5 x 5 mm, many in a large spreading corymbose panicle up to 200 mm across. Involucral bracts in c. 5�6 series, graded, closely imbricate, base woolly, inner about equaling the flowers, tips obtuse, opaque silvery white sometimes tinged palest brown, not radiating. Receptacle fimbrilliferous and paleate, paleae resembling the inner involucral bracts, conduplicate, enfolding each flower, caducous. Flowers 33�55. Achenes not seen, ovaries with myxogenic duplex hairs. Pappus bristles several (c. 18), tips barbellate, shaft nearly smooth, bases cohering lightly by patent cilia, some light fusion as well, or bases nude and free.

Flowers mainly between February and April.


Found in the rank growth on forest margins or on damp grassy mountain slopes. Ranges from the highlands of Limpopo and Mpumalanga and western Swaziland to the mountainous NE. Free State and neighbouring Lesotho (Leribe plateau and Molimo Nthuse), KwaZulu-Natal (where it is widespread), Transkei and Cape as far west as the Tsitsikama Mountains between Port Elizabeth and George.

Savanna, Grassland and Thicket Biomes.



Helichrysum platypterum DC., Prodr. 6: 201 (1838); Harv. in F.C. 3: 243 (1865); Hilliard, Compositae in Natal 192 (1977).



Cape, between the Umzimvubu and Umzimkulu Rivers, Dr�ge 5001 (G-DC, holo.).



Gnaphalium platypterum (DC.) Sch. Bip. in Bot. Ztg 3: 172 (1845).

G. amplum O. Kuntze, Rev. Gen. Pl. 3: 150 (1898). Type: KwaZulu-Natal [Pinetown distr.] Krantz Kloof, Kuntze (NY, holo.; K, photo.).

Cassinia alba O. Hoffm. in Bot. Jb. 24: 470 (1898). Type: Pondoland, June 1858, Bachmann 1431.



Hilliard 4679 (E; K; NH; NU); Meeuse 9860 (K; PRE); Schlechter 6972 (BOL); Tyson 1218 (BOL; SAM); Wright 453 (E; K; NH; NU).