Arctotis aspera L.
Common names: rough arctotis (Eng.); taaigousblom (Afr.)
A tough, soft-wooded perennial from the mountainous and coastal fynbos areas that flowers for the most part of the year. Once established, it hardly needs any water.
Sprawling perennial of 1 × 1 m, that can grow up to 2 m. The stem and leaves are covered with gland-tipped hairs and are rough to the touch. The leaves are auriculate, pinnatisect or bipinnatisect, have narrow segments with rolled under margins and often appear grey beneath.
The flowerheads are daisy-like, solitary, on hairy peduncles. The ray florets are purple or white and darker on the reverse. Outer bracts appear tailed. Flowering can be sporadic, but intensifies from late winter to midsummer (between August and December) and the peak flowering season is in late winter and spring (from August to October). The fruits are achenes that have 2 elongate, undulate cavities, a well-developed pappus and basal hair tuft.
According to the Red List of South African plants, the conservation status of this species is Least Concern (LC).
Distribution and habitat
The taaigousblom occupies rocky, sandstone slopes from Elands Bay along the West Coast, towards the Cape Peninsula.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Arctotis was named by Linnaeus and means ’ear of a bear’ from Greek arctos, meaning ‘a bear’, and otis, ‘ear’, and refers to the scales on the pappus (fine hairs on the fruit) with its ear-like appearance. The specific epithet aspera, is from Latin and means ‘rough’ and is in reference to roughly textured hairy stems and leaves.
Arctotis consists of roughly 64 species in southern Africa and Angola. In South Africa species are found in the Western and Eastern Cape, Namaqualand-region and extend further east to other parts of the country. No species have been recorded in Swaziland.
Several species have showy daisy-flowers and are grown as ornamentals, including the bright orange or cream-coloured annual, Arctotis hirsuta (Namaqua marigold), the multi-coloured Arctotis acaulos (renoster marigold) and the incredibly tough silver-leaved prostrate perennial with big cream-coloured flowers, Arctotis stoechadifolia (trailing or coast arctotis), are just some of the various arctotis which adorn many a garden the world over.
Despite observing various bees, including the Cape honeybee, visiting flowers when the author did some photography, it cannot be stated with certainty if one is the pollinator or one of a host of pollinators.
Apart from being a horticultural ornamental, no other uses or cultural aspects have been recorded.
Growing Arctotis aspera
Arctotis aspera can be propagated sexually from seed and asexually through making cuttings.Sow the seed in autumn (March–May), by using a well-draining medium. Cover the seed with a thin layer of find sand or compost. Water the medium regularly, but ensure that it never dries out or gets overwatered. Seedlings can be potted once the second set of leaves appears.
Take cuttings any time of the year. Depending on the material available, take cuttings of between 8–12 cm. Remove the bottom two thirds of the foliage on the stem and cut below a node. Insert the node in a rooting hormone and place in a well-draining, rooting medium. Rooting will occur after between 14–21 days. Pot on into a well-draining potting-mixture.
Companion plants to this species may include: Lampranthus aureus and L. amoenus, Pelargonium betulinum, P. cucullatum, P. fulgidum, P. gibbosum and P. capitatum, Arctotis acaulis, Ursinia anthemoides, Dimorphotheca pluvialis, Coleonema album, Agathosma serpyllacea, A. ciliaris and A. lanceolata, Erica sessiliflora, E. coccinea subsp. coccinea, E. ericoides and E. viscaria subsp longifolia, Aloiampelos commixta and Aloe succotrina. This species can be further enhanced in the garden by using silver-leaved plants to provide a contrast or different textures. Opt for the silver leaved varieites of Cotyledon orbiculata, Helichrysum dasyanthum, Othonna dentata, Salvia lanceolata and S. africana-lutea, Arctotis stoechadifolia or Seriphium plumosum (=Stoebe plumosa).
This species has no known pests. Fertilizer-applications are not a prerequisite, but will be advantage.
Plants will respond favourably to a light pruning once it starts looking a bit old.
- Foden, W. & Potter, L. 2005. Arctotis aspera L. var. aspera. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. Accessed on 2018/06/06
- Manning, J. 2007. Field guide to Fynbos. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
- Manning, J. & Goldblatt, P. 2012. Plants of the Greater Cape Floristic Region 1: the Core Cape Flora. Strelitzia 29. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
- Stearn, W. 2002. Stearn's dictionary of plant names for gardeners. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Plant Type: Ground Cover, Perennial
SA Distribution: Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy, Loam
Flowering season: Spring, Early Summer, Winter
Flower colour: Purple, White
Aspect: Full Sun
Gardening skill: Easy