Helichrysum pagophilum is a much branched dwarf shrublet, a rare species. It grows a compact dome-shaped cushion of dense grey leaf rosettes at the many stem tips. The old stems become bare, woody and prostrate. The grey leaves are covered in silky-white, felted hairs. Leaf shape is ovate with entire margins that taper to pointed tips.
Flowerheads grow solitary and sessile at stem tips with six rows of white or pale yellow involucral bracts. The regular overlapping of the bracts seen in these flowerheads like a roof tile pattern is described as imbricate. Flowerhead centres are flat discs, initially yellow, later brownish grey, comprising the many small disc florets.
The plant’s distribution is limited to a small region in the west of KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg and the east of the Malutis of Lesotho, known in areas like Cathedral Peak and Garden Castle. This photo was taken in November in the Mkhomazi Wilderness Area.
The habitat is high elevation grassland, the plants growing on rock faces, often taking advantage of unlikely small crevices. Although rare, the population in habitat is stable early in the twenty first century (iSpot; www.keys.lucidcentral.org; http://redlist.sanbi.org).