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Who wants to live forever?

written by Admin
4 · 01 · 22

If you are an everlasting, then yes!

And when you opt to live in the grasslands of Clarens, you just may succeed.

As long as you follow the example of proteas and group your two types of florets in your single head with floret, set in the middle as inconspicuously as possible and then show of your colourful, dry sandpaper-like bracts for all life to enjoy. Don’t forget to flower between November and March. 

Everlastings belong to the genus Helichrysum (Helios Greek for sun and Chrysos Greek for gold), one of the largest genera in the sunflower family. There are about 15 different helichrysums in the CVC occurring in the streamside bush, on the slopes and in the higher grassveld. They prefer rocky, cool and moist south-facing sandstone slopes in fynbos vegetation.

According to the botanist, Bertil Nordenstam, the adjective -um means remarkable, strikingly unusual, distinguished, excellent, most beautiful etc., and indeed this is one of the most striking species in the genus. The large strawberry-like rounded capitula are really ‘eximia’.

They occupy many different habitats and there are about sixty different species in Qwaqwa, with a number of rare ones on top of the Drakensberg. 

It comes in yellow, white, red…

Helichrysum cooperi is used as a love charm by the Zulus. The dry leaves are mixed into an ointment which is applied all over the body after the bath. As a result the desired lady finds the man irresistable. From a horticultural point of view Helichrysum cooperi is a good fill-in plant with its bright golden yellow flowerheads which may be produced for more than three months.

Helichrysum cooperi is a fast-growing biennial herb up to 1.5 m high. In young plants the leaves are crowded in an almost whorl-like arrangement but as the plants grow older the alternate leaf arrangement becomes apparent. The leaves are simple, oblong, net-veined and have an entire margin. They are light green and sticky with a covering of tiny hairs. The bottom leaves become dry when the plants grow older. The fresh leaves produce an aromatic smell when crushed between the fingers. Plants start to flower from early January until late March and produce many bright golden yellow flowerheads arranged in a large spreading leafy inflorescence. The flowerheads are shallowly cup-shaped and contain about 1000 tiny florets. When mature the flower heads close and become dry. They produce many very fine ‘seeds’ (fruits) about 1 mm long containing a single seed. At their top the ‘seeds’ have a tuft of fine bristles.

Helichrysum cooperi grows in the Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Lesotho. The species is found in grassland in full sun; it loves moist conditions and often grows near or on forest margins.

The genus Helichrysum was named by Philip Miller (1691-1771), a British gardener, who was superintendent of the Chelsea Physick Garden of the Society of Apothecaries from 1722 to 1770. The genus name Helichrysum comes from the Greek words helios, meaning sun, and chrysos, meaning gold. Most species of this genus have golden yellow flowers. According to Elsa Pooley (1998) the specific epithet honours Thomas Cooper, 1815-1913, an English plant collector and cultivator who came to South Africa in 1859.

The flowers of Helichrysum cooperi attract many small insects like bees, flies and beetles which pollinate them when moving from one to the other. Seed dispersal is by water or wind. The leaves may hold the seed (fruit) with their sticky surface thus preventing them from being blown away by the wind.

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