Actinotus gibbonsii

Dwarf Flannel Flower, Gibbons Flannel Flower

Family: Apiaceae

An annual or perennial herb with ascending or decumbent stems to 30 cm long.

It has a natural distribution in NSW, generally from the coastal/tablelands boundaries to the western plains. It extends into QLD, growing west to areas such as Tambo and extending north to west of Townsville and Cairns. It extends just into Victoria in the north-east area.

It typically grows in eucalypt woodland and shrubby heath, in sandy (sometimes red) soils.

The dissected leaves are divided twice, resulting in several 3-lobed arms, up to about 4 cm long and about 2 cm wide.

The general flower structure resembles a daisy. However, this plant is in the Apiaceae family where small flowers are typically arranged in umbels. In this genus, the umbel is surrounded by petal-like bracts with a flannel texture. Individual flowers have 5 petals with an overall star-shape and are very small. 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 8 mm across and consist of around 30 very small 5-sepaled pink/red-pink flowers (petals are absent in this species), nearly all of which are bisexual. The bracts surrounding the umbel are up to 6 mm long and are hairy and green in colour.

The fruit is a mericarp composed of two segments, which are hairy on the edges and black, and only to 2 mm long.

In the garden

A. gibbonsii is rarely cultivated due, no doubt to the unavailability of seed although it will self-sow if conditions and soil are favourable.

Currently, little is known about its cultivation potential.

It likely needs a sandy soil with good drainage to do well and may go well in pots to start with.


Propagation from cuttings would probably be reasonably successful, based on experience with A. helianthi.

Other information

Actinotus is a genus of about 15 species, occuring only in Australia and New Zealand. NSW currently has 5 species.

Like other flannel flowers, the species survives fire in the soil stored as seed.

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

gibbonsii – in honour of William Sydney Gibbons (1825-1917), an artist, chemist, amateur photographer, who lived in Melbourne, and was a founding member of the Royal Society of Victoria. It is unknown why this particular species was named in his honour.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Actinotus gibbonsii profile page      https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Actinotus~gibbonsii

Plants of South Eastern New South Wales – Actinotus gibbonsii profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/actinotus_gibbonsii.htm

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.