Origin of name:
poly = many, numerous cladus = branch, shoots; referring to the many thin branches that grow from a central base
Cream-coloured bractsSmall compact inflorescencesLong fine needle-like leaves, sharply pointed
Bushy herb forming thick rounded clumps up to 1 m tall and as much across. Stems long, delicate, thin, sometimes tangled, woody, brittle, thinly greyish-white woolly, gland-dotted, closely leafy. Leaves mostly 7-22 x 1 (-2) mm or less, diminishing slightly upwards, linear-lanceolate, apex acuminate, mucronate, base broad, somewhat eared, margins revolute, upper surface more or less loosely white-woolly, often glabrescent, lower persistently loosely white-woolly, gland-dotted. Heads heterogamous, c. 3 x 1.5 mm, cylindric, some woolly hairs at base, many in compact corymbose panicles. Involucral bracts in 5 series, imbricate, graded, inner about equaling flowers, oblong-lanceolate, pellucid, tips subacute, opaque, dirty white, crisped, radiating. Receptacle with fimbrils much exceeding the ovaries. Flowers 9-15, 6-10 female, 1-5 homogamous. Achenes 0.5 mm, cylindric, obscurely ribbed, glabrous. Pappus bristles many, equaling corolla, scabridulous, bases cohering by patent cilia.
Flowering in March, April and May.
Favours rocky sites. Recorded from high ground in Limpopo (from the Blouberg and Soutpansberg south to the low Drakensberg on the Mpumalanga-KwaZulu-Natal border, and from Heidelberg, Johannesburg and Rustenburg on the Highveld), from the environs of Mbabane in Swaziland, and Itala near Louwsburg in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Also in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe.
Grassland and Savanna Biomes.
Easily recognized by its narrow leaves, small heads with white, crisped involucral bracts, and female versus homogamous flowers in the proportion 2-10: 1.
Helichrysum polycladum Klatt in Bull. Herbarium Boissier 4: 837 (1896); Moeser in Bot. Jb. 44: 281 (1910); Compton, Fl. Swaziland 634 (1976).
Limpopo, Mpome [Mparneberg fide Jl. S. Afr. Bot. 30: 135, 1964], Schlechter 4725 (Z, holo.; BM; BOL; G; GRA; PRE; S; iso.).
Compton 27731 (NBG; PRE); Devenish 1695 (E; K; MO; NU); Esterhuysen 21449 (BOL; E; K; PRE); Hilliard & Burtt 10020 (E; K; M; MO; NU; PRE; S).