Chrysocephalum apiculatum – Common Everlasting, Yellow Buttons

06 Jun

It is the beginning of summer and spring freshness moves aside for deep dusty green and a dry yellow. Prolonged bloom by flowers, that smile to the sun and do not flinch, is more rare. One of these “non-flinching” plants is Chrysocephalum apiculatum.

The plant is wildly distributed throughout the southern half of Australia and northern Tasmania. It grows in various types of soils and climates and its growth habit changes accordingly. The different forms the plant takes go from decumbent perennials to woody shrublets, and there are those who claim that this diversity calls for a division of species. In Israel we have, as of now, only one form, whose Australian origin is unknown to us.

Photo: Judith Marcus

The scientific name of the genus Chrysocephalum (=golden head in Greek) was already given in 1845 (by Joachim Steetz), but it was accepted again formally only at the beginning of the current century. Until then it was known as Helichrysum (=golden sun in Greek). ‘Everlasting’ is the common name for all Helichrysum plants, and the plant is very common in Australia – therefore the name ‘common everlasting’. Another common name is ‘yellow buttons’ – and that goes without saying.

Photo: Judith Marcus

The common everlasting we have in Israel is a decumbent herbaceous perennial. It grows about 60 cm wide and up to 30 cm tall. Its stems and leaves are covered with fine hairs, affording it a silvery appearance. The fine hairs help in decreasing water evaporation from the leaf surface.

Yellow buttons belongs to the Asteraceae family, and as such, each of its “buttons” is actually a multi-flowered inflorescence. It is a flower-head composed of many dense disc-florets, velvety to the touch, surrounded by papery bracts – if you touch the flowerheads, you may hear a straw-like sound. The florets and the bracts are golden. The bracts remain on the plant after the dispersal of the seeds and prolong the plant’s colorful appearance. Flowering is very long, almost year-long, excluding the peak of winter.

Photo: Judith Marcus

Chrysocephalum apiculatum is recommended for gardening as a groundcover or pot-plant in full to partial sun. The growth rate is quite fast. The plant copes as well with little irrigation as with frequent irrigation, as long as there is good drainage. It is a quite low-maintanance plant, but for weeding, as it does not prevent weeds growing through it. In Israel it is short-lived, living for 2 to 4 years. C. apiculatum grows well in the mountain area as well as in the coastal plain, and though we don’t have information about its growth in the country’s hotter areas, it is worth the try.

You are welcome to visit the Austarlian section of the Gardens, and see the common everlasting shining in the sunlight with its silvery leaves and golden flowers. 

Photo: Judith Marcus