This funny little dwarf shrub is sold as Brown's Calocephalus (Calocephalus brownii)... Translated from Greek, the name means "beautiful head" - the plant forms spherical inflorescences of small yellowish flowers. And the specific name is given in honor of the Scottish botanist and paleontologist, the tireless explorer of Australia, Robert Brown (1773-1858) who described it in 1817.
According to the new classification, the plant is isolated into an independent monotypic genus called Brown's leukophyte (Leucophyta brownii)... The plant is unique not only as the only representative of the genus Leucophyta... It is endemic to the coastal sand dunes of the south of Australia, and is not found anywhere else in nature. It forms a compact hemispherical pillow of silvery twigs and short leaves, for which it received the English common name - Cushion Bush. The leaves of the plant are so small that it seems as if it all consists of short branched silvery rods, together resembling a coil of barbed wire, albeit soft to the touch.
Leukofita, or Brown's calocephalus, belongs to the Asteraceae family. It is a perennial evergreen dwarf shrub from 20 to 90-100 cm tall. Small, up to 4 mm, linear white-tomentose leaves adjoin the same drooping stems and look like scales. The stems of the plant become woody and brown with age. Inflorescences are almost spherical heads, appear until late autumn, until frost occurs below -5 ° C. The flowers are pale yellow, almost completely hidden in the woolly bracts. Flowering is subtle and not abundant in the temperate zone.
Growing conditions... Calocephalus is an unpretentious and drought-resistant plant, the place for it needs a sunny one. Loves slightly acidic and neutral, light, well-drained soils containing sand. Does not tolerate stagnation of moisture, when waterlogged it vomits. Tolerant to soil salinity.
Care... Requires very little maintenance - mostly weeding only. Annual plants are not as drought tolerant as woody plants, so they are not as drought tolerant and need moderate irrigation during dry periods. The plant does not require fertilizing, it is quite content with medium-fertile and even poor soils.
Pruning... After flowering in mid-summer, the calocephalus can be pruned, giving the bushes a more neat shape. At the same time, it will help to preserve the silvery colors, as the fading buds turn brown and make the plant less attractive.
Calocephalus in temperate climates is grown as an annual; it does not withstand winter temperatures below -1 ° C.
It can be propagated by seeds, which are sown for seedlings at the end of March. The seeds can germinate from 10 to 30 days. Germination stimulants - Epin, Lignohumate, Potassium humate or the like will help speed up the process. Seedlings require very good lighting, 12-16 hours a day, and temperatures + 20 ... + 24 ° C. As the seedlings grow, the temperature is reduced to + 16 ... + 18оС.
However, there are practically no seeds on sale, more often you can find potted varietal plants. They are grown in flower farms from cuttings, since the varieties usually do not bloom.
Good specimens of calocephalus can be preserved in winter in cool greenhouses or bright rooms with a temperature of + 12 ° C, and in spring, semi-lignified plant stems can be used for rooting. It should be borne in mind that high air humidity can destroy the plant.
There are not many varieties of calocephalus. All of them are more compact than the natural look. Most of them do not bloom.
- Silver Stone - compact, up to 28-30 cm tall, does not bloom. Bred in North America.
- Moonshine - up to 0.6 m
- Bed head - up to 20 cm tall, blooms, grown from seeds (Benary, Germany).
In Australia, calocephalus is liked to be planted along the paths so that they are well delineated in the dark. And they even cut topiary from them.
The silvery color of the plant allows it to be used like another annual plant - seaside cineraria (cm. Primorsky greece), which is widespread in our city both in city flower beds and in private gardens. Or instead of decorative wormwood (see Wormwood).
Calocephalus looks great both in curbs and in mass plantings. It will perfectly complement other plants in flower beds, which will fill not only with silver, but also with its airiness. This plant is a godsend for monochrome white and blue gardens. It can be planted in rocky and gravel gardens, when creating dry streams.
Given the frequent rains, the best way to grow a plant in our area will be container, in combination with various ornamental plants. In large flowerpots, calocephalus will be a very successful padding for other flowers. For container planting, the plant needs to be watered more often and fed 1-2 times a month.
Sometimes they write that this plant is easy to keep year-round as an indoor plant. Here it is necessary to take into account several points: firstly, the illumination even on the southern windows will be insufficient and additional lighting will be required; secondly, cool conditions of detention are necessary; thirdly, aging plants lose their decorative effect, as the lignified stems turn brown; and fourthly, this plant is a juvenile, it should be renewed from cuttings every 2 years.
This plant is also interesting for florists - a dried cut, which looks like a silvery coral, will become an unusual addition to winter bouquets and New Year's compositions. Therefore, having removed the plants in the fall, you can hang the branches in bunches in a dry, dark and ventilated place, and provide yourself with material for winter creativity.