Felicia Amelloides

Felicia amelloides catches the eye wherever it is planted, with its striking sky-blue and sunny yellow flowerheads, held well above the leaves. South Africa has been blessed with many felicias, several of which make excellent garden plants. This species is one of the best. Apart from its beauty, this plant has many advantages. It is hardy, fast growing, long-flowering and long-lived, more or less frost- and wind-resistant, needs only moderate water and little care. It is also readily available from nurseries. As blue is a difficult colour to get into a garden, this is definitely a plant that will draw attention.

This felicia is usually a perennial, evergreen shrublet, about 0.3-0.6 x 0.5 m but it can be up to 1 m high. It is densely branched and frequently has dark reddish stems. The plant often feels like fine sandpaper because of tiny, stiff hairs on the stems and leaves. The leaves are opposite and more or less elliptical, dark green above and light green below. A cultivar, cv. variegata, with variegated green and white leaves is also available.

The flowerheads are typical of the Asteraceae and are about 30 mm in diameter and are borne on naked stalks up to 180 mm long. Unlike many daisies, these do not close at night. Inside the green involucre (bracts surrounding base of flowerhead), each head has about 12 female ray florets that are sky-blue, or rarely mauve (white-flowered and pale blue forms are now offered by nurseries). In the centre there are numerous yellow, bisexual disc florets. All florets have a pappus of a single ring of many stiff, white bristles. The fruits, called achenes, are darkish brown and minutely hairy. Each fruit is shed together with its pappus that acts

Ecology


Felicias are visited by bees and small flying insects, such as wasps and butterflies. They also have tiny thrips running around the florets, usually carrying pollen grains on their bodies. Sometimes a bright yellow ‘flower’ spider lurks in the daisy’s centre, matching the disc florets perfectly. Whatever animal achieves pollination, it is generally very successful as full heads of seed are the norm. The involucre opens outwards in an old flower so the achenes are completely exposed. They readily become detached and float away on even a slight breeze by means of the pappus.