Helichrysum argyrophyllum DC.
Common names: Mo's Gold, Golden guinea everlasting, Vaalsewejaartjie
This plant originates in the Eastern Cape. It favours dry places and bare, open, hard ground and grasslands. It is often found growing amongst rocks. This plant is quite adaptable as it grows in both summer and winter rainfall regions, so although it comes from a summer rainfall area, it grows well in the Cape fynbos region.
It is a low growing ground cover, with small, grey leaves. The flowers are daisy-like with canary yellow rays surrounding a darker yellow centre, flowering from December to May. The flowers remain fresh on the plant for almost two months, and are everlasting if cut and dried. For best results, harvest the flowers within a week of them first opening. Clip them and hang them upside down in a dry room.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
There are over 600 species of Helichrysum occuring worldwide, with 244 found in southern Africa. The word Helichrysum is derived from the Greek "helios" meaning sun and"chrysos" meaning gold, referring to the colour of many of the flowers of species in this genus.
Growing Helichrysum argyrophyllum
In the open ground this plant makes a densely leafed ground cover approximately 100mm in height. It prefers sunny positions where it has a mat-forming growth habit. It likes sandy, well drained soil, making it ideal for those spots in the garden where nothing else seems to want to grow, like dry patches in the full sun, or on sloping ground. It is ideal for rockeries or terrace walls, where it cascades down over the rocks.
Lifespan in the garden is approximately 4-6 years, but plants can be cut back and fed to improve their shape if required. It is better to use an organic food, such as compost or Seagro, rather than a fertilizer. This encourages slow growth. Fertilizers encourage the plant to grow too fast and exceed its growing capacity, making it lanky and woody. The striking contrast provided by the grey foliage of this plant makes it an ideal ground cover and border plant. It is also a good filler for pots, cascading down the sides. Like many ther helichrysums and grey leaved plants, H.argyrophyllum is drought tolerant, making it a good choice for the water-wise gardener. It also grows in semi-shade, but will not flower as prolifically as in full sun. The plant has a strong resistance to fungi and seems to be very unappetising to insects!
Propagation is by seed and cuttings. Seed is best sown in autumn or spring, otherwise the plant roots freely wherever the stem touches the ground. Heel or tip cuttings can be made, using Seradex #2 or Dip and Grow root hormone treatments.
- Hilliard, O.M., 1983. Flora of Southern Africa Vol 33. Part 7. Fasc.2
- Schenk G., 1991. Pacific Horticulture, Vol 52(3)54-56
- E. van Jaarsveld - Personal communication, Horticulturist - Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Plant Type: Ground Cover
SA Distribution: Eastern Cape
Soil type: Sandy
Flower colour: Yellow
Aspect: Full Sun, Shade
Gardening skill: Average