The white bristle bush is a greyish, rounded, sturdy shrub (2-4 m) that is found in coastal to mountainous regions of southern Africa. Although not formally divided into subspecies, there are a number of different forms occurring in different areas of its wide geographical distribution.
The leaves are alternate, needle-like, 6-18 mm long, scattered, sharp-tipped, green-grey and smooth or woolly. The honey-scented flowers vary in colour from common white to pink or purple. Full bloom is in winter in terminal clusters (60 mm diam.), which and are bisexual. The fruit is a ribbed nutlet with a bristly pappus. The white or greyish main stem bark is sometimes not visible as it is obscured by the many dense branches.
Metalasia is widespread in the Western Cape, from the coast to the mountains. It also occurs in other parts of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape and Lesotho. Its wide distribution includes forms tolerant to frost, and poor, sandy soils.
Uses and cultural aspects : In Lesotho the dried leaves are used as tea, and in coastal regions, it is planted on dunes to stop erosion.