Actinotus forsythii

Pink flannel flower, Ridge Flannel-flower

Family: Apiaceae

A herbaceous wiry perennial, mostly prostrate with stems to 50 cm long. It is typically found in the Blue Mountains, south of Katoomba, extending south to the south coast and southern tablelands.

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). 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 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.

In the garden

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. It grows well in pots for a time. 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.

Lloyd Hedges has demonstrated success with smoke-water seeds. Cuttings can also likely be done.


See Garden Uses

Other information

Likely regenerates from seed after fire.

Actinotus – referring to “rays“, “furnished with rays” and “radius” (Gk. ακτίνο / 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.

Not considered to be at risk in the wild at the species level although it is listed as a high risk/vulnerable plant in the alpine area of Victoria.


By Jeff Howes