Plant of the Month — October 2009
Angianthus tomentosus J.C.Wendl. — Camel-grass
An erect or ascending, dwarf, woolly annual herb, 0.03—0.05m high with yellow clyindrical flower heads on show from August to December. The leaves grow to approximately 1 cm long, are linear or oblanceolate and densely hairy.
The main populations are found in the wheatbelt, but Angianthus tomentosus can also be found from the south coast to just two populations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The soil preferences of this small herb include coastal and inland situations such as claypans, saline depressions and granite outcrops; it is an inhabitant of low rainfall regions. Angianthus tomentosus grows well in well-drained, light to medium soils with plenty of sun and is frost tolerant. It may be propagated from seed or cuttings but is not well known in cultivation.
The name Angianthus is derived from the Greek aggeion meaning vessel or pail, plus anthos flower, referring to the cup-shaped ring of pappus-scales. The species name, tomentosus comes from the Latin, tomentum a woolly padding of cushions, but botanically, tomentose means covered with dense, short matted hairs.
The plant was described in 1808 by Johann Christoph Wendland (1755-1828), a German botanist and gardener who was a native of Petit-Landau, Alsace. As a young man he received an education in horticulture at the nursery of Karlsruhe Palace. In 1780 he became a gardener at Herrenhausen Gardens in Hanover, where he gained botanical experience from the Director Jakob Friedrich Ehrhart (1742-1795, himself honoured in the grass genus Ehrharta which includes the African Veldt grasses, common weeds in WA).
Photo: M. Hancock
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