Helichrysum nudifolium var. pilosellum
yellow October to March; spring summer autumn
sun; rockery; dry soils; sandy soils; roof gardens; slope bank; wildlife bees flies beetles
grassland; coastal eastern cape; bushveld
thicket; subtropical east coast; highveld; bushveld savanna
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This tiny wildflower is one of the early spring jewels of grassland and savanna biomes. With a wide distribution range, from Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West provinces, it will be at home most gardens and is worth taking the time to source. One of the greatest features of this species is its hardiness; in my garden it has taken a battering from a ball-chasing-canine and suffered the hottest and driest winter in years, only to pop out a few tall .owering stems with the typical golden Helichrysum .ower tops. Not surprising as grasslands were historically home to large browsers and so genetically predisposed to survive rough handling. Unlike its better-known groundcover siblings, H. petiolare and H. cymosum, this family member is far less showy – a perennial herb it grows only 400 mm tall. A few large leaves, 150 – 230 x 40 – 60 mm, grow from a woody rootstock, spreading sideways from the centre. Long hairs make for a rough surface texture though the underside is soft, felt-like, and white in colour. The leaf is strongly veined with 5 – 9 parallel veins. Long stalks hold the .at golden .owering heads high above the rather .at golden .ower heads. Flowers are made up of a number of little ‘balls,’ each 5 x 5 mm in size, and are seen from August through to March. Long stalks ensure the .owers can be seen above the surrounding grass fronds by pollinators. These are a magnet for a variety of insects, particularly bees, .ies and beetles, and once .owering is over, the .uffy seeds are dispersed by wind and rain. In the garden: the little grassland Helichrysum requires full sun and does particularly well in dry soils. Propagate from seed sown in summer in a well -draining mixture. As they are very .ne, mix with .ne soil to ensure an even spread when sowing. Cover with a shallow layer of .ne soil. Seeds usually take four weeks to germinate. Plants can also be split from the mother plant – take care though not to disturb the roots.