Fynbos Friday – Helichrysum cymosum (ASTERACEAE)
Forget the red carpet...say hello to the gold carpet! As variable as it is widely distributed, this species grows into either a mat-forming groundcover or a shrub to 80cm, depending on factors like soil type, nutrients, wind and rainfall. Its grey elliptical leaves are beautifully complemented by a sea of discoid canary-yellow flowerheads in late spring/summer. Besides providing much-needed food for bees, this is an important plant in traditional medicine, with the twigs and aromatic leaves used by people in the Eastern Cape to alleviate pain and clean wounds.
Flowering time: September-April
In your garden: Beware, this little guy is a wolf in sheep’s clothing! The woolly grey underside of the leaves gives it a water-wise appearance, but it really only thrives in damp spots. Plant in full sun or semi-shade, preferably in a dip or depression and keep the soil moist. The low-growing form is good for coastal gardens, being well adapted to salt air and sandy conditions.
Distribution: Mpumalanga to the southwestern Cape on sandy slopes and flats
Image: ️James Puttick
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