Helichrysum petiolare is a dense, spreading, soft shrub with profuse ovate to round, woolly grey leaves, much branched. The plant is aromatic and has small creamy flowers from late spring to midsummer. It grows on shady lower slopes in coastal areas from about Mossel Bay to Port Elizabeth.
A group of related plants like H. cymosum, H. patulum and H. crispum are sometimes commonly called kooigoed in Afrikaans, meaning bedding material. This term is commonly used in the Western and southern Cape.
For travellers in the veld this plant material was so welcome and useful for this purpose that the use was probably as widespread as the plants were available; and may still sometimes be! Softness is immediately evident, but keeping insects away is even more useful. These plants are (or were) also widely used medicinally by locals (Bond and Goldblatt, 1984).