Common names:

Vaalbergkaroo (A)

Origin of name:

zeyheri = after Carl Ludwig Zeyher (1799-1858), pioneer botanical collector in the Free State and Gauteng, who also collected in the Western and Eastern Cape. His specimens form the basis of Flora Capensis.

Diagnostic characters:

Small hairy leaves, grey-green

Very small heads in terminal clusters

Woody base


Dense or open shrublet c. 150�1 000 mm tall, branches virgate, greyish-white woolly, leafy. Leaves mostly 6�23 x 2�9 mm, diminishing upwards, linear-oblong, oblong or obovate, apex obtuse to acute, mucronate, base sometimes petiole-like in the larger obovate leaves, usually broad and often subcordate-clasping, margins often undulate or crisped, both surfaces closely greyish-white woolly, wool sometimes thin, only the midvein visible. Heads homogamous, cylindric, c. 4 x 2 mm, many in terminal compact corymbose panicles. Involucral bracts in 4�5 series, graded, inner about equaling the flowers, not radiating, imbricate, oblong-lanceolate, more or less distinctly keeled, blunt or subacute, often more or less truncate and emarginate, tips opaque white or inner sometimes rosy. Receptacle with fimbrils nearly equaling ovaries. Flowers nearly always 5. Achenes 0.75 mm, glabrous. Pappus bristles many, about equaling corolla, scabrid, bases cohering strongly by patent cilia.


Flowering mainly between November and May.


On sandy and stony soils. Widespread, and common in the drier parts of the Cape from Tulbagh, Paarl and Stellenbosch east through Worcester, Laingsburg, Ladismith, Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert districts to Humansdorp and Uitenhage, in the west northwards through Clanwilliam, Springbok and Kenhardt districts to the 21st parallel in Namibia, in the east, northwards through Graaff-Reinet, Cradock, Victoria West, Middelburg, Colesburg, Postmasburg, Kuruman and Vryburg to Messina, Zeerust and Potgietersrus districts in Limpopo, Bethulie, Fauresmith, Bloemfontein and Ficksburg in the Free State. Also in Botswana and Lesotho.

Savanna, Grassland, Nama Karoo, Succulent Karoo, Fynbos and Thicket Biomes.



Very variable particularly in stature and leaf shape and Harvey (1. c.) recognized three varieties based primarily on leaf shape and the degree of undulation of the leaf margins, but these are scarcely tenable now a wide range of material is available. Not easily confused with any species in our area other than its close ally H. tomentosulum, but that species has generally much larger leaves (mostly 20�80 x 6�15 mm), differently shaped and with generally flat, not undulate nor crisped, margins, and all but the uppermost reduced leaves distinctly though often minutely petiolate, not sessile. Also, the involucral bracts in H. zeyheri are generally blunter than in H. tomentosulum.

Very variable; sometimes delicate with very small leaves, or more robust with larger leaves. Leaves always greyish and sparsely spaced. Often resprouting after fire and then developing a thick woody rootstock.

Recorded as palatable to stock.



Helichrysum zeyheri Less., Syn. Comp. 309 (1832); DC., Prodr. 6: 196 (1838); Harv. in F.C. 3: 253 (1865); Moeser in Bot. Jb. 44: 254 (1910); Merxm., F.S.W.A. 139: 99 (1967).



Lectotype: S. Africa, Vaal River, Rhenosterkop, Zeyher 885 (K; BM; PRE; S; SAM, isolecto.).



Gnaphalium zeyheri (Less.). Sch. Bip. in Bot. Ztg 3: 171 (1845).

Pentataxis micrantha D. Don in Mem. Wern. nat. Hist. Soc. 5: 550 (1826), non Helichrysum micranthum DC. Type: Cape of Good Hope, Labillardi�re s.n.

Helichrysum burchellii DC., Prodr. 6: l96 (1838) var. a complicatum DC. (i.e. var. burchellii). Gnaphalium burchellii (DC.) Sch. Bip. in Bot. Ztg 3: 171 (1845). Helichrysum zeyheri var. burchellii (DC.) Harv. in F.C. 3: 254 (1865). Lectotype: Trans Gariep, near source of Kuruman River at Little Klibbolikhonni, Burchell 2506 (G-DC)

H. burchellii var. � intermedium DC., l.c. Helichrysum zeyheri var. intermedium (DC.) Harv. in F.C. 3: 254 (1865). Lectotype: Zwartberge, Dr�ge, 773 (G-DC; K, isolecto.).



Acocks 12420 (PRE); Codd 3537 (PRE); Esterhuysen 15419 (BOL; NBG); Giess 12453A (PRE; WIND).