Origin of name:

ruderale = growing among rubbish

Diagnostic characters:

Bright yellow bracts
Large solitary heads in openly branched inflorescence
Leaf margins woolly


Biennial herb, aromatic when fresh, up to c. 1 m tall, stem stout, base up to 10 mm diam., simple below the inflorescence, glandular-setose, the uppermost part and the inflorescence branches thinly white-woolly as well, leafy throughout. Radical leaves wanting at flowering; cauline leaves up to 180 x 65 mm, decreasing in size upwards, elliptic or lanceolate-elliptic, uppermost lanceolate, apex acute to acuminate, apiculate, base broad, cordate-clasping, all but the uppermost decurrent in long or short wings, both surfaces glandular-setose, margins often white-woolly as well. Heads heterogamous, depressed-globose, c. (22�) 25�32 mm across the radiating bracts, many in a large corymbose panicle, the branches obliquely ascending. Involucral bracts in c. 9 series, graded, imbricate, much exceeding flowers, radiating, glossy, bright yellow. Receptacle honeycombed. Flowers 811�1053, 121�226 female, 681�754 homogamous, yellow. Achenes c. 1 mm long, barrel-shaped, glabrous. Pappus bristles many, equaling corolla, tips barbellate, bases with patent cilia, cohering or not.

Flowering in September and October, fading in November.


A weed, often forming dense stands along roadsides and in old fields. Recorded only from KwaZulu-Natal, from Eshowe, Mtunzini and Umvoti districts in the north to Port Shepstone district in the south, from near sea level to c. 1 050 m.

Grassland, Thicket and Savanna Biomes.


Closely allied to H. cooperi and not easy to distinguish in the herbarium. The persistent white wool on the inflorescence branches to well below the first forking is a useful character to distinguish H. ruderale; white wool is usually wanting in H. cooperi except sometimes immediately below the heads. H. ruderale flowers in spring, H. cooperi in summer. In the field, the obliquely-ascending inflorescence branches of H. ruderale immediately distinguish it from H. cooperi with inflorescence branches wide-spreading to nearly horizontal.

A specimen in PRE (Kioch s.n., Boshoff�s Road Siding, Pietermaritzburg) is annotated 'Fibre produced from stems' and the fibre sample mounted on the sheet seems to be excellent.




Helichrysum ruderale Hilliard & Burtt in Notes R. bot. Gdn Edinb. 34: 82 (1975); Hilliard, Compositae in Natal 244 (1977).



KwaZulu-Natal, Pinetown distr., Everton, Eskotene, c. 600 m, Hilliard & Burtt 7216 (NU, holo.; E; K; PRE, iso.).






Rogers 24413 (PRE); Strey 6934 (NU; PRE); Wood 12491 (NH; NU).