Chrysocoma ciliata, in Afrikaans the bitterbos (bitter bush), is a slender shrublet with alternate, ascending, needle-like leaves that are sometimes sticky to the touch. The stems are hairy (unlike C. coma-aurea). C. ciliata grows from 10 cm to 60 cm in height and tends to invade on poorly managed terrain.
The flowerheads are daisies without rays, just yellow discs of about 1 cm in diameter, each comprising many, tiny, five-lobed florets. Both the generic and the specific names suggest hair: coma means hair of the head, ciliata means like a hairy fringe; both descriptive of the florets. Four rows of green bracts with membranous margins form the involucre around a receptacle without scales.
The plant occurs almost throughout South Africa, apart from the border areas in the north-east. It also grows in Namibia.
This plant (and others from its genus) causes a stock disease, in Afrikaans called valsiekte (falling illness). The bitterbos name says the plant tastes bitter, but bear in mind its toxicity before checking. (Maybe people don’t get valsiekte from non-alcoholic substances!)
The plant in picture was seen in the Mkhomazi Wilderness Area during November. The normal blooming season of the species is late spring to midsummer (Manning, 2009; JSTOR; www.epository.up.ac.za).