Helichrysum is a large genus of flowering perennials, annuals, and shrubs with worldwide distribution in New Zealand, Australia, Asia, Africa, and Europe. The genus is known for its glossy and papery flowers that come in almost all shades of yellow, orange, red, and pink including many double and single flowering varieties.
The genus of Helichrysum offers a wide range of ground covers, dwarf bloomers, and lovely shrubs that can be grown in flower beds, garden borders, rock gardens, containers as well as window gardens. These lovely bloomers require sunny exposure, loamy and sandy soil and average watering. In fact, Helichrysums can withstand drought and poor soil conditions thus making themselves a popular choice for gardeners.
Helichrysum acuminatum, Image by Michel Dignand
Because of diverse growing habit and variation in foliage and flowers, many members of the Helichrysum genus have been reclassified in smaller genera such as the Everlastings (Xerochrysum, Coronidium, Antennaria etc.).
The genus of Helichrysum is primarily popular for its showy and long lasting flowers. These flowers are often preserved as used in dry flower arrangements. Some of the species, especially Helichrysum italicum, are a source of essential oils that are valuable for their restorative properties, and medicinal uses in chest complaints, colic, fever, internal sores, coughs, colds, headaches, and skin treatment. The oil extracted from Helichrysum italicum is particularly used in aromatherapy.
Popular species of Helichrysum include:
Helichrysum petiolare – Shrubby plant with silvery foliage spreading up to 2 meters and producing ivory white flowers in summer.
Helichrysum bracteatum – Commercially known as Everlasting and grown as popular houseplant; several varities of H. bracteatum grow as small annuals and produce flowers of orange, red, pink, yellow and white color in summer.
Helichrysum splendidum – Produces dense foliage of silver-grey color and grows as erect shrubby perennial.