The genus Helichrysum consists of an estimated 600 species,
in the sunflower family (Asteraceae). The type species
is Helichrysum orientale. The name is derived from the
Greek words helisso (to turn around) and chrysos (gold).
occurs in Africa (with 244 species in South Africa), Madagascar,
Australasia and Eurasia. The plants may be annuals, herbaceous
perennials or shrubs, growing to a height of 60–90
cm. The genus was a wastebasket taxon, and many of its members
have been reclassified in smaller genera, most notably the
Everlastings, now in the genus Xerochrysum. Their
leaves are oblong to lanceolate. They are flat and pubescent
on both sides. The bristles of the pappus are scabrous,
barbellate, or plumose.
receptacle (base of the flower head) is often smooth, with
a fringed margin, or honey-combed, and resemble daisies.
They may be in almost all colors, except blue. There are
many capitula and generally flat-topped corymbs or panicles.
The corolla lobes show glandular hairs at the abaxial surface.
Several species are grown as ornamental plants, and for
dried flowers. When cut young and dried, the open flowers
and stalks preserve their colour and shape for long periods.
species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera
species including the bucculaticid leaf-miners Bucculatrix
gnaphaliella (which feeds exclusively on Helichrysum arenarium)
and Bucculatrix helichrysella (feeds exclusively on H. italicum)
and the Coleophora case-bearers C. caelebipennella, C. gnaphalii
(feeds exclusively on H arenarium) and C. helichrysiella
(feeds exclusively on H. italicum).
angustifolium or Helichrysum italicum is steam distilled
to produce a yellow-reddish essential oil popular in fragrance
for its unique scent, best described as a mixture of burnt
sugar and ham. Angustifolium means narrow leaved.
Be aware of the fact that some will try to sell you helichrysum from another ssp (see below). The best results are obtained with helichrysum italicum ssp italicum pr ssp serotinum.
is still only one Helichrysum Italicum !