Rhodanthe anthemoides, commonly known as Chamomile Sunray, is a compact herbaceous native daisy often multi-stemmed and forming clumps to 30 cm tall and about 20 cm wide. It often grows in large colonies.
It has a large natural distribution; in NSW, it is found generally from the coastal inland, west to the western slopes, recorded in locations which cover the entire coastal stretch, west to areas such as Albury, Dubbo, Nygnan, Coonabarabran and Narrabri. It extends into Queensland, as far west as occurring in scattered patches, as far north as around Biloela and Buckland Tableland National Park and as far west as near Cunnamulla. It is scattered through most of central Victoria, from near Suggan Buggan to west of Horsham. It is found in scattered patches between Adelaide and Port August in South Australia and is scattered across much of central Tasmania.
It is often found in rocky montane areas in exposed open woodland and shrubland areas. It also grows in dry sclerophyll woodlands and shrublands on sandy soils.
Rhodanthe spp. have simple and alternate to sub-opposite leaves, some basal and some on flowering stems (cauline). In this species, basal and cauline leaves are alternate and crowded with a thickish texture, to 10 mm long and 2 mm wide, blue-green in colour, with an acute apex and sunken glands.
Rhodanthe spp. are in the daisy family and therefore produce flowers in an inflorescence called a capitulum (often referred to as a ‘head’). This is an evolved structure where a large number of modified flowers (florets) are grouped together to look like one flower. The Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) would be the most grandiose example. The ‘petals’ of the capitula are actually ‘ray florets’ which contain a floret hidden inside the elongated ‘petal’ which is actually an extended limb of the corolla tube called a ligule. The disc in the middle of the capitulum (often yellow or orange in colour) consists of very small ‘disc florets’ which have a small 3-5 lobed corolla tube with stamens and a carpel.
In this genus, the ray florets are absent and the disc florets are surrounded by an involucre (overlapping rows) or papery bracts. In this species, the heads are to 20 mm across with the yellow disc florets in the centre, surrounded by white papery bracts; produced mostly in summer. The buds preceding the open flowers are pink to purple in colour.
The fruit is an achene, in this species they are to 2 mm long, cylindrical, hairy and with a pappus of hairs.
A common plant in cultivation. It can be grown in containers to good effect from seed as well as from cuttings.
Rhodanthe anthemoides would be an attractive addition to cottage garden, rockeries and in borders of native garden beds.
It is best planted on a well-draining sandy to loam soil with good drainage. Full sun positions are best.
Prune lightly after flowering has finished.
As with most daisies, this species propagates readily and enthusiastically from cuttings.
This species likely regenerates in large numbers from the seedbank after fire.
Rhodanthe is a genus of 46 species, endemic to Australia and occurring in all states and territories. NSW currently has 16 species.
Rhodanthe – from Greek rhodon (ῥόδον) meaning “rose” and anthos (ἄνθος) meaning “flowers” – referring to the rose-like heads of the genus.
anthemoides – species name means similar to the Chamomile genus Anthemis and was previously known as Helipterum anthemoides.
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Rhodanthe anthemoides profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Rhodanthe~anthemoides
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.
Australian National Botanic Gardens – Rhodanthe anthemoides profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2014/rhodanthe-anthemoides.html