A herbaceous wiry perennial, mostly prostrate with stems to 50 cm long.
In NSW, it is found in the Blue Mountains, south of Katoomba, extending south to the south coast and southern tablelands, to west of Jervis Bay, Milton and Ulladulla. There is a large disjunction to Alpine National Park in Victoria where it is known from one location.
It grows in damp areas in Eucalypt forest and heath on shallow soils over sandstone.
The leaves are somewhat linear but with broadening and lobed/dissected apices, which results in linear segments, with the entire leaf up to about 4 cm long and 1 cm wide and 1 wide.
The flowers are arranged in umbels, a typical feature of the Apiaceae (Carrot / Fennel / Parsley family). Although these plants somewhat resemble a daisy, the flower arrangement is very different. The umbels are an umbrella-like arrangement of flowers where all flowers are set in a circular arrangement on a single peduncle. The umbels are to about 1.2 cm across and consist of up to 60 very small 5-petaled pink flowers (star-shaped) which can be male or female. The umbel is fringed by petal-like bracts, elliptic and about 7 mm long by 2 mm wide, with a flannel texture. Flowering occurs from January to May.
The fruit is a mericarp, to about 2.5 mm long and 1 mm wide.
A. forsythii is rarely cultivated due, no doubt to the unavailability of seed.
However, Lloyd Hedges of Menai Group has cultivated a lot of it successfully using smoke-water, and it has become popular with Menai and Sutherland members (see references).
It requires well drained, sandy soils in sun or partial shade. There are reports of self-seeding from some members who have grown it.
Related species A. helianthi will often “self-sow” so it is possible that A. forsythii would do likewise.
Although of fairly widespread distribution, pink flannel flower is rarely seen in the wild as it does not appear every year. Apparently it requires specific climatic conditions for seed stored in the soil to germinate. It is reported that it flowers a year after a fire if there has been rain. After the bushfires of 2019-2020, it was seen in large numbers in the Blue Mountains, with many people flocking to see it.
It grows well in a pot, perhaps for a limited time.
Lloyd Hedges has demonstrated success with smoke-water seeds. Cuttings can also likely be done.
Regenerates from seed after fire.
Actinotus is a genus of about 15 species, occuring only in Australia and New Zealand. NSW currently has 5 species.
Actinotus – referring to “rays“, “furnished with rays” and “radius” (Gk. aktino (ακτίνο) / aktinos (ακτίνος)).
forsythii – named after William Forsyth who was a Scottish botanist (1737 – 25 July 1804). He was a royal head gardener and a founding member of the Royal Horticultural Society.
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild – although it is listed as a high risk/vulnerable plant in the alpine areas of Victoria.
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Actinotus forsythii profile page
Australian Plants Society Story – Congratulations to Lloyd Hedges – Life Member https://austplants.com.au/Stories-archive/7355859
Australian Plants Society – Sutherland Group – Post on Actinotus forsythii https://www.facebook.com/211236958416/posts/lloyd-hedges-gave-a-demonstration-at-our-april-meeting-last-year-of-how-to-grow-/10157052070388417/