Photo: J. Burrows

Origin of name:

After Charles Francis Swynnerton (1877-1938) pioneer botanical explorer of Manicaland and Gazaland, on both sides of the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border.

Diagnostic characters:

Large solitary heads
Grey velvety leaves
Light yellow bracts


Mat-forming perennial herb or subshrub, stock creeping, becoming very stout and woody, stems many, branching only below, ascending, c. 100�150 mm long, closely leafy, flowering stems solitary, terminal, one-headed, leafy below, bracteate upwards, grey-felted. Leaves up to 80 x 10 mm, more or less erect, lanceolate-elliptic, apex acute, base slightly narrowed, half-clasping, webbed to the stems by loosely interwoven stringy-woolly hairs, both surfaces and margins enveloped in similar loosely-woven grey stringy-woolly felt underlain by patent glandular hairs, margins slightly involute. Heads homogamous, broadly campanulate, c. 13�18 mm long, solitary at the branch tips. Involucral bracts in c. 10 series, graded, loosely imbricate, about equaling the flowers, acute, radiating, glossy white with a faint yellowish or brownish overcast. Receptacle with flattened tubercles. Flowers 129�201, yellow. Achenes c. 1.5 mm, barrel-shaped, with myxogenic duplex hairs. Pappus bristles many, equaling corolla, scabrid, bases cohering strongly by patent cilia.

Flowering between October and December. Allied to H. chionosphaerum but distinguished by its broader and differently shaped leaves with nerves scarcely visible.


Forms spreading clumps or mats on stony mountain slopes. Recorded from Mt Kilimanjaro, the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe (Melsetter district), the eastern highlands of Mpumalanga (Mariepskop, Mt Anderson, Ohrigstad, Kaapse Hoop, Witklip Forest Reserve), a few localities in the southern Drakensberg of KwaZulu-Natal and the Suurberg near Weza, and Fort Cunynghame, Stutterheim district, Eastern Cape.

Grassland Biome.



Helichrysum swynnertonii S. Moore in Bot. J. Linn. Soc., 40: 109 (1911); Hilliard, Compositae in Natal 219 (1977).



Zimbabwe, Melsetter, 6 000 ft, Swynnerton 6110 (BM, holo.).






Hilliard & Burtt 7448 (E; K; MO; NBG; NU; PRE; S); Nordenstam 3196 (LD; NU); Rogers 24024 (PRE).