Origin of name:

refractum = bent sharply back, or broken off; referring to the leaves, which become more or less reflexed with age.

Diagnostic characters:

White-woolly leaves bent at an angle downwards
Upper leaves overshooting the inflorescence


Shrubby, much-branched perennial, either sprawling or forming a dense rounded bush or mat, main stems 3-5 mm diam., branches up to 450 mm long, old parts becoming nude, young branches grey-woolly-felted, closely leafy throughout. Leaves spreading, eventually reflexed, 4-10 x 1 mm, linear-lanceolate, apex obtuse, base slightly broadened, half-clasping, margins strongly revolute, upper surface thinly woolly, lower surface scarcely visible, greyish-white woolly-felted. Heads homogamous, campanulate, c. 4 x 3 mm, c. 10-15 in dense glomerules 10 mm across at the branch tips, soon overtopped by young growth. Involucral bracts in c. 5 series, soon caducous, imbricate, graded, outermost reduced, acute, webbed together and to adjoining heads, innermost about equaling flowers, not radiating, glabrous, very obtuse, erose, somewhat concave, translucent, pale golden-brown. Receptacle shortly honeycombed. Flowers c. 15-23. Achenes not seen, ovaries with myxogenic duplex hairs. Pappus bristles very many, scabrid, bases cohering lightly by patent cilia.

Flowering in September; also recorded in March & April.


Recorded only from the Eastern Cape, in Albany, Port Elizabeth and Alexandria districts, in shrub communities and on inland sand dunes. Also forms a carpet near Addo, on inland sand dunes around vlei where it is wet for part of year.

Thicket Biome.


Easily recognized by its narrow leaves with strongly revolute margins, reflexed in age, and the tight clusters of heads overtopped by new growth. Rarely collected.




Helichrysum refractum Hilliard in Flora of southern Africa 33,7 (2): 133 (1983).



Cape, Alexandria distr. (3325 BD), Olifantskop Pass, N. side, c. 2 400 ft, False Fynbos, rare by roadside, dense hemispherical bush, 8 ix 1960, Acocks 21419 (PRE, holo.).






Johnson 1307 (PRE); Rogers 3285 (Z); Noel, s.n., RUH 7743 (BOL); Rogers 181 (K; BOL 10639 is almost certainly the same collection)