Type of Flowers
Xerochrysum bracteatum, commonly known as the golden everlasting or strawflower, is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae native to Australia. Described by Étienne Pierre Ventenat in 1803, it was known as Helichrysum bracteatum for many years before being transferred to a new genus Xerochrysum in 1990. It grows as a woody or herbaceous perennial or annual shrub up to a metre (3 ft) tall with green or grey leafy foliage. Golden yellow or white flower heads are produced from spring to autumn; their distinctive feature is the papery bracts that resemble petals. The species is widespread, growing in a variety of habitats across the country, from rainforest margins to deserts and subalpine areas. The golden everlasting serves as food for various larvae of lepidopterans (butterflies and moths), and adult butterflies, hoverflies, native bees, small beetles and grasshoppers visit the flower heads.
The golden everlasting has proven very adaptable to cultivation. It was propagated and developed in Germany in the 1850s, and annual cultivars in a host of colour forms from white to bronze to purple flowers became available. Many of these are still sold in mixed seed packs. In Australia, many cultivars are perennial shrubs, which have become popular garden plants. Sturdier, long-stemmed forms are used commercially in the cut flower industry.
Xerochrysum bracteatum occurs in all Australian mainland states and territories as well as Tasmania.Widespread, it is found from North Queensland across to Western Australia, and in all habitats excluding densely shaded areas.It grows as an annual in patches of red sand in Central Australia,responding rapidly to bouts of rainfall to complete its life cycle.It is common among granite outcrops in southwest Western Australia, and is found on heavier and more fertile soils in the Sydney region, such as basalt-, shale- or limestone-based soils, generally in areas with a high water table.Associated species in the Sydney Basin include blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) in open forest, and the shrubs Empodisma minus and Baloskion australe in swampy areas.It has been reported growing in disturbed soil, along roadsides and in fields in the New England region in the United States.
Most of the cultivars brought into cultivation in Australia in the latter part of the 20th century are perennials.'Dargan Hill Monarch' was the first of these, and many more have followed.Profusely flowering, these come in many colours including white, yellow, orange, bronze, pink and red. Their commercial lifespan is generally around three years.Queensland-based company Aussie Winners has a range of compact plants ranging from orange to white known as Sundaze.Plants of this series usually have larger leaves.This range won the Gran premio d'oro at the Euroflora exposition in Geneva in 2001, for the best new plant series in the previous three years. 'Florabella Gold', a member of the Florabella series, won the award for best new pot plant (vegetative) in the Society of American Florists' competition of 1999.The Wallaby cultivars are range of taller forms with narrow leaves and white, yellow or pink flowers.Other commercial ranges include the Nullarbor series, and Queensland Federation daisies, including 'Wanetta Sunshine' and 'Golden Nuggets'.
Xerochrysum bracteatum is easy to grow both from seeds and from cuttings, although named cultivars will only grow true from cuttings. Plants benefit from pruning of old growth in winter to allow for new growth in spring. Dead-heading, or pruning off old flower heads, promotes the production of more flowers.Fresh seed germinates in 3 to 20 days and requires no special treatment.Plants grow best in acid, well-aerated, soils of pH 5.5 to 6.3, with low levels of phosphorus. They are sensitive to iron deficiency, which presents as yellowing (chlorosis) of the youngest leaves while the leaf veins remain green.
Xerochrysum bracteatum can be grown in large pots or window boxes, and is a good pioneer plant in the garden until other plants become more established. Lower growing cultivars are suitable for hanging baskets and border plantings.The flowers attract butterflies to the garden.Dried flowers are long lasting—up to some years—and are used in floral arrangements and the cut flower industry.More robust longer stemmed forms are used for commercial cut flowers.The main factor limiting lifespan of dried flowers is the wilting of stems, so flowers are sometimes wired into arrangements. Immersing flowers in glycerol or polyethylene glycol also lengthens lifespan.