For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gold Carpet (Helichrysum cymosum)

Family Asteraceae
Helichrysum cymosum subsp. cymosum is a fast growing, well branched, spreading groundcover that can grow up to 1 m tall, but in the garden it is usually about 500 mm tall with equal spread. It has thin greyish-white woolly branches densely covered with leaves. The leaves are variable, mostly 8–15 (–42) x 2–4 (–15) mm, becoming smaller and more distant upwards. The upper surface of the leaf is covered in thin silvery grey, paper-like hairs (indumentum) that will strip like a skin when rubbed.
It flowers during summer, between September and April, but mainly in late summer and autumn, with bright canary-yellow flowers in flat-topped flowerheads that look like masses of small discs. Each flowerhead is a cluster of 6–20 flowers. The flowers generally have smooth tips, and a pappus of many bristles (a pappus is a whorl or tuft of bristles in place of a calyx).

There are two recognized subspecies of Helichrysum cymosum : subsp. cymosum and subsp. calvum which occurs mostly in the Grassland Biome. It ranges along the Drakensberg from the Eastern Cape region, along the KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho border to the low Berg in Mpumalanga. The two subspecies can be confused but the difference between them is that subsp. calvum has smaller flowerheads with fewer flowers per flowerhead (4–7 flowers), generally narrower leaves, and it lacks a pappus
Distribution and habitat
It grows in big straggling clumps, often in moist areas such as the hollows between dunes, amongst shrubs in Cape scrub and on forest margins. It ranges from the Western Cape, including the Cape Peninsula, eastwards along the coastal mountain ranges of the Eastern Cape and as far as Lake St Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal.
Uses and cultural aspects
Like in many other Helichrysum species, the leaves are aromatic. Traditionally, people of the Eastern Cape use dried leaves as a pain reliever, by inhaling the smoke of burning leaves. Fresh leaves are traditionally boiled in water and drunk as a tea for coughs and colds. Leaves are also traditionally used in wound dressings and to prevent infections.