The genus Helichrysum was once home to around 500 species. Recent revision however has seen the number lessen. At the present time (until the classification is changed again), around 30 species are native to Australia. Most of the species are from the temperate regions of Africa and the Mediterranean. They are members of the daisy family Asteraceae and mostly perennials with a few shrubby species. They have simple leaves, often with heavy felting. The leaves are usually a pale- to grey-green shade. The flowers are tiny but heavily clustered and thus quite conspicuous. They have papery bracts round a central flower head. The bracts may be white, yellow, pink or purple. Their common name in Australia is ‘everlasting’.
Helichrysum adenophorum is an eastern Australian annual. The green leaves are small and hairy and the flowers have papery white bracts which are tinged with pink. It blooms throughout the warmer months.
Helichrysum baxteri or the fringed everlasting is found in Victoria and South Australia. It is a short plant, reaching only 0.5 metres with a spread of 1 metre. It is a showy, clump forming plant with daisy-like everlasting flowers during spring and summer. The flowers are white with yellow centres. It is best suited to sunny, relatively well-drained positions. It will cope in seaside gardens if offered some protection and it is frost tolerant.
Helichrysum elatum or white paper daisy is a shrubby perennial which grows to 2 metres with a spread of about 1.2 metres. It is native to south-eastern Australia. It has woody branching stems with narrow, lance-shaped leaves. The stems and undersides of the leaves are a downy white. The white to pink bracts have a silvery quality which is very attractive. The flowerheads may be solitary or may be produced in a cluster of several. The plant blooms in spring.
Helichrysum leucopsideum has the common name of satin everlasting. It is a shrubby perennial from the southern half of Australia where it is found along the coastlines. The leaves are narrow and dark green, 35mm long with the undersurfaces being downy white. The bracts are a pink-tinted white. The flower heads appear in summer and are about 5cm in diameter.
Helichrysum rutidolepis or pale everlasting grows to 30cm and spreads to 80cm. It is a perennial from south-eastern Australia and has narrow leaves. The leaves are downy when young but lose much of their ‘fluff’ as they mature. It has bright golden yellow bracts and flowers in autumn.
These species are mostly tolerant of drought conditions once established. The like full sun, light, gritty soil which drains really well. Some are a little tolerant of frost but few tolerate prolonged cold periods.