Origin of name:

spodio = ash grey
phyllum = leaf

Diagnostic characters:

Mat-forming with thick base and rootstock
Linear long grey leaves, grass-like
Small compact inflorescences, woolly below


Mat-forming closely tufted perennial herb or subshrub, main stem woody, up to 10 mm diam., with numerous prostrate, ultimately bare and rooting, branches becoming thickened at the nodes and there producing tufts of leaves, flowering stems mostly decumbent at the base, then erect to c. 100-250 mm, simple, silky-silvery, leafy becoming bracteate upwards. Radical leaves 10-100 x 1-2 mm, linear, flat or channeled, apex subacute, base expanded, clasping, both surfaces closely grey silky-woolly, cauline leaves up to 20 mm long, smaller upwards, linear-lanceolate to lanceolate, broad-based, clasping, spreading or appressed, grey silky-woolly. Heads homogamous, cylindric, 4-5 x 2 mm, many in a tightly congested corymbose cluster 10-20 mm across, heads webbed together at the base with tissue-paper-like indumentum. Involucral bracts in 3-4 series, closely imbricate, about equaling the flowers, translucent, outer tipped brown, inner bright yellow becoming opaque, minutely radiating. Receptacle honeycombed. Flowers 8-12. Achenes 0.75 mm, obscurely ribbed, glabrous. Pappus bristles c. 5, equaling corolla, tips shortly plumose, bases nude, not cohering.

Flowers between December and February in the northern part of its range, but as late as May in the Cape.


Forms large woody mats on rock outcrops and rock sheets in grassland, rooting in the crevices and sprawling over the adjacent rock surfaces. Recorded from Lydenburg in Mpumalanga, the mountains in Mbabane district, Swaziland, the low Drakensberg on the KwaZulu-Natal-Mpumalanga border, Itala, Ngome and Ceza on the KwaZulu-Natal-Zululand border, Mt Gilboa, Lion's River district, KwaZulu-Natal, then a disjunction to Dohne and Mt Kemp east of the Amatola Mts in the Eastern Cape.

Grassland and Savanna Biomes.


Can be confused with H. nanum, which is readily distinguished by its leaves with strongly revolute margins and very acute outer involucral bracts.
Similar to H. subglomeratum but with much narrower leaves and smaller inflorescences. Growth form reminds of H. flanaganii.




Helichrysum spodiophyllum Hilliard & Burtt in Notes R. bot. Gdn Edinb. 34: 83 (1975); Compton, Fl. Swaziland 635 (1976); Hilliard, Compositae in Natal 158 (1977).



KwaZulu-Natal, Ngotshe distr., Ngome Forest Reserve, c. 1 200 m, Hilliard & Burtt 5933 (NU, holo.; E; K; NH; S, iso.).






Devenish 538 (M; PRE); Hilliard & Burtt 10007 (E; K; MO; NU; S); Hilliard & Burtt 8390 (E; K; NU; PRE; S); Sim 19746 (NU).