Photo: Richard Booth

Helichrysum ecklonis

Common name: Ecklon’s everlasting, Sotho name: toane-ea-loti, Xhosa name: umthi wechanti

This perennial member of the delightful everlasting family flowers for much of the summer.  Buds are covered in protective silvery hairs before they open. Each stem holds a single bloom of crisp paper-thin petals – usually bright pink, but fading over the season. The centre of the flower is yellow.  The stems rise from an evergreen basal rosette of cobwebby, oblong leaves – always woolly underneath.  They occur in rocky grassland.

About 250 species of Helichrysum occur in South Africa. The Genus name is derived from Helios which means sun and chrysos meaning gold.   Helichrysum ecklonis was named after Christian Friedrich Ecklon, a Danish traveler, apothecary and plant collector who first visited South Africa in 1823. After developing an interest in the local flora, he co-authored a catalogue of South African plants in 1837.  Natural hybrids are suspected between H. ecklonis and H. argentissimum.

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