Dimorphotheca sinuata DC.
Common names: Namaqualand daisy, African daisy (Eng.); gousblom, jakkalsblom (Afr.)
This showy annual creates sheets of brilliant orange when it flowers in Namaqualand in early spring, drawing visitors from near and far. It is a member of the daisy family.
Dimorphotheca sinuata is an annual that grows up to 300 mm tall. The leaves are light green when mature with shallowly lobed margins. They are slender, spoon-shaped, reaching up to 80 mm long. The stems are reddish in colour and are often covered by the masses of leaves around them. The Namaqualand or African daisy is a particularly attractive species of the genus Dimorphotheca, with remarkably big orange flowers that have orange centres (sometimes they may be yellow, depending on the locality). They need full sun to open and they always face the sun. Around the centre at the bottom of the petals is a narrow, greenish mauve ring. The flowering time is mid-winter to mid-autumn. The flowers are up to 80 mm across and are borne singularly at the tip of each branch. Selected forms of Namaqualand daisies are available for cultivation in a variety of shades such as orange, cream, yellow and salmon. The seeds that appear soon after the flowers wilt are brownish and papery. They are easily blown away by the wind, so they need to be collected as early as possible.
Distribution and habitat
Dimorphotheca sinuata grows naturally in the winter rainfall areas of the country, usually in sandy places in Namaqualand and also in Namibia.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
Asteraceae is one of the largest families of the flowering plants in the world. It contains predominantly herbaceous plants although there are almost 40 species in southern Africa that reach tree size. Family members are characterised by daisy-type flowers. Well-known members are sunflowers, blackjacks and cosmos.
The genus name Dimorpotheca is derived from Greek dis (twice), morphe (shape) and theka (a fruit), referring to the different kinds of seeds produced by the ray and the disc flowers.
Growing Dimorphotheca sinuata
Namaqualand daisies are one of the loveliest garden plants. The striking orange flowers attract butterflies into the garden. Bees love this plant as they collect the nectar from the flowers. Namaqualand daisies will bring colour to the garden. They are useful for rock gardens, dry banks and the front row of borders. They are, however, not good for cut flowers as they close on cloudy days and remain closed indoors. There are no known medicinal properties of this plant.
The African daisy is easily grown from seeds. In cool areas they may be sown in late autumn or early winter in warmer areas. They can be sown directly in prepared beds on a calm day when the wind will not blow the papery seeds away. For best results, prepare the beds with compost and remove clods and stones to make a fine bed. (They also grow very well in poor, sandy soils.) Sow thickly and rake lightly to cover the seeds to prevent them being blown or washed away. Keep beds moist to trigger germination. Seeds take four to ten days to germinate. Seedlings can be thinned or pricked out when they are about 5 cm tall. Young plants must also be kept moist until they reach the height of about 10 cm. They take approximately three months to flower. Seed is widely available in nurseries and supermarkets in South Africa.
Dimorphotheca pluvialis is another attractive spring flowering annual related to the African daisy.
- PIENAAR, K. 1994. The ultimate southern African gardening book. Southern Book Publishers, Halfway House, Gauteng, South Africa
- VAN DER SPUY, U. 1971. Wild flowers of South Africa for the garden. Hugh Keartlands Publishers, Johannesburg.
- JOFFE, P. 1993. The gardeners guide to South African plants. Tafelberg Publishers, Cape Town.
Mhlonishwa D. Dlamini
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens
Plant Type: Bi/Annual
SA Distribution: Northern Cape, Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy
Flowering season: Spring, Early Summer, Winter
PH: Acid, Neutral
Flower colour: Orange
Aspect: Full Sun
Gardening skill: Easy