Xerochrysum bracteatum

Golden Everlasting Daisy

Family: Asteraceae

A soft, mainly herbaceous perennial, single or multi-stemmed, sometimes growing with an erect shrub-like habit, to about 1 m tall, usually with a narrow spread. It can vary in its habit with some forms annual and others perennial. 

It has a massive natural geographic range with some morphological variability exhibited, growing all across NSW – in all botanical subdivisions. It grows along most of the Queensland coast, to around Cooktown and well into the central regions. It is found through most of Victoria as well as the islands of Bass Strait and Tasmania. It grows across vast areas of South Australia with the exception of the north-east of the State. It is found in the south of the Northern Territory, as well as, around Darwin and to the south of. It is found in Western Australia – mainly on the west coast in the south-west of the State and is reportedly natural in some places and naturalised elsewhere. It is a weed in New Zealand. 

It is found in a wide range of habitats from dry sclerophyll woodlands and forests to shrublands, mallee and desert shrublands and open grasslands, often on soil with some sandy influence. 

Xerochrysum spp. have simple and alternate leaves. In this species, leaves are mid to dark green, oblanceolate to narrow-elliptic to lanceolate, to 10 cm long and to 2 cm wide, with scabrous-hairy margins and sometimes leaf surfaces. 

Xerochrysum 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 (when present) 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. A frequent associated part of any capitulum is an involucre (overlapping rows) of bracts which typically subtend and surround the floral parts. 

In Xerochrysum however, there is a disc of florets in the centre but no ray florets. Rather, the disc is surrounded by the papery bracts of the involucre which are playing the role of the ray florets. In this species, capitula are typically produced solitarily at stem terminals, on peduncles to 15 cm long, to 3 cm in diameter; typically bright yellow in colour; sometimes white. Disc florets are yellow to orange and each one very small. There may be 100 or more within the disc. The yellow papery bracts are to about 2 cm long; mainly produced in spring. 

The fruit of Xerochrysum is an achene. In this species, they are to 4 mm long and 4-angled and oblong in shape with an attached pappus of golden bristles.

In the garden

A very popular plant in cultivation and a wide range of forms and cultivars have been developed. It is reported that plants were taken to Germany and “played with” and soon a range of colour forms from red to pink to orange, white and yellow had been created.

Colourful and well worth growing in cottage style gardens.

This author has very little luck growing the annuals or cultivars of this plant either in the ground of in pots, in a Sydney Garden, but not through lack of trying. They are often short lived and attacked by caterpillars to the extent that I give up. On the occasions they do grow and flower, they rapidly become very leggy and unsightly. Severe pruning at this stage is not always successful.

I suspect my lack of success is because I do not have enough sun for them to grow at their best and my heavy soil is not well-drained enough.

The flowers are great for floral work, and can also be dried for long lasting flowers that don’t need water. To dry them, pick in bud and hang upside down till ready for use.

Mass displays can be sometimes seen at Mt Annan Botanic Gardens in western Sydney.

They are best grown in full sun on a well-drained soil which has a lot of sand content. Some forms will tolerate heavier soils. Different forms will likely perform better in different areas. 


From seed which is easy; no pre-treatment is required. Propagation from cuttings is also fairly easy and reliable and is the only way that named cultivars should be propagated.

Plants and seeds readily available commercially.

Other information

Xerochrysum bracteatum was previously known as Bracteantha bracteata and references to its even earlier name of Helichrysum bracteatum may still be found in many publications. 

This species will regenerate from seed after fire. 

Xerochrysum is a small genus of 13 species, all of which were formerly classified in the genus Bracteantha. The genus is endemic to Australia with NSW currently having 4 species. 

The golden everlasting has been cultivated for many years and a number of forms have been selected for cultivation. These include several which have resulted from both chance and deliberate hybridisation. Some examples are:

  • ‘Diamond Head’ – perennial; green foliage, 0.2m x 0.5m. Yellow flowers
  • ‘Dargan Hill Monarch’ – perennial; grey leaves, 0.8m x 1m. Yellow flowers<
  • ‘Cockatoo’ – perennial; similar to “Dargan Hill Monarch”, pale yellow bracts around a head of small orange flowers

Xerochrysumfrom the Greek xeros (Ξερός) meaning ‘dry’ and chrysos (Χρυσός) meaning “golden”, referring to the dry, papery bracts which are golden-yellow in many species.

bracteatumfrom Latin, “bearing bracts”, emphasising the showy bracts of the capitula or flowering heads. 

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

Australian Native Plants Society Australia (ANPSA) – Xereochrysum bracteatum: https://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/xerochrysum-bracteatum/

Gardening with Angus – Xereochrysum bracteatum profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/xerochrysum-bracteatum-everlasting-daisy/

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

By Jeff Howes and Dan Clarke