Origin of name:

retortus = twisted or bent back

Diagnostic characters:

Large solitary heads
White/pink bracts, outer golden-brown to reddish


Suffrutex, main stems up to 450 mm long or straggling to greater lengths, branching, prostrate, rooting at intervals, flowering branchlets erect, all closely leafy throughout. Leaves imbricate, 11�30 x 2�6 mm, scarcely diminishing in length upwards but often narrower, oblong, oblanceolate or obovate, lower half appressed, webbed to stem, upper half flat, spreading, often somewhat recurved, tip more or less acute, mucronate, hooked, both surfaces enveloped in silky silvery 'tissue-paper' indumentum. Heads heterogamous, turbinate, 25�40 mm long, nearly double that across the radiating bracts, solitary at the tips of the branchlets, closely surrounded by leaves. Involucral bracts in c. 7 series, loosely imbricate, graded, inner much exceeding flowers, linear-lanceolate, acute, glossy white, outer ovate-acuminate, golden-brown sometimes with a rosy-crimson overcast. Receptacle very shortly honeycombed. Flowers 94�246, 17�44 female, 77�204 homogamous. Achenes 1 mm long, cylindric, with myxogenic duplex hairs. Pappus bristles many, equaling corolla, tips barbellate, shaft scabrid, bases lightly fused.

Flowering between August and December.


A sprawling sandbinder, sometimes straggling up through neighbouring bushes. Along the SW. Cape coast from Blouberg, N. of Table Bay, to Rietvlei, Riversdale district, on sea cliffs, coastal dunes, sandy slopes or flats never far from the sea, from sea level to c. 45 m.

Fynbos Biome.



Helichrysum retortum (L.) Willd., Sp. Pl. 3: 1907 (1804); DC., Prodr. 6: 177 (1838), excl. var. minus DC.; Harv. in F.C. 3: 228 (1865) excl. var. minus DC.; Moeser in Bot. Jb. 44: 321 (1910), excl. Schlechter 10095 and 10041; Levyns in Adamson & Salter, Fl. Cape Penins. 782 (1950).



Cape of Good Hope, Herbarium Cliff. (BM).



Xeranthemum retortum L., Sp. Pl. 858 (1753).Argyrocome retorta (L.) Gaertn., Fruct. 2: 410 t. 167, fig. 3 (1791).  Astelma retorta (L.) [D. Don ex] Steud., Nom. 2,1: 153 (1840).  Gnaphalium retortum (L.) Sch. Bip. in Bot. Ztg 3: 169 (1845).

X. polyfolium Crantz, Inst. 1: 290 (1766). Lectotype: Xeranthemoides procumbens Dill., Hort. Elth. 423 t. 322, fig. 415 (1732).

X. radicans Thunb., Prodr. 153 (1800). Helichrysum radicans (Thunb.) Thunb., Fl. Cap. 663 (1823); Less., Syn. Comp. 292 (1832). Type: Cape, seashore near Lion's Head, Thunberg (sheet 19312, UPS, holo.).



Barker 2727 (NBG); MacOwan 2410 (SAM); Rogers 26452 (PRE); Schlechter 9486 (BM, PRE); Taylor 5267 (PRE).