A soft, herbaceous low-growing annual or biennial plant (occasionally perennial) to about 0.75 metres high by about 0.5 metres wide, single or multi-stemmed with stems sticky.
It has a wide natural geographic range in NSW (although not as widespread as X. bracteatum). Moving east, it starts to be found on the coastal ranges with some eastern records in western Sydney and the southern highlands, then it is very common on the tablelands and western slopes across the State, extending out into the western plains out to areas such as Yathong Nature Reserve and Cobar as well as Deniliquin. It only just spreads into Queensland from around Wallangarra to Stanthorpe. It is common in Victoria, spreading throughout much of the northern and central parts of the State as far west as south of Mildura and west of Horsham.
It is typically found in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest usually on sandy loamy soils.
Xerochrysum spp. have simple and alternate leaves. In this species, leaves are typically dark green, narrow-elliptic to linear in shape, to 10 cm long and to 1 mm wide (often seen very narrow); sticky to the touch – exuding resin.
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 play the role of the ray florets. In this species, capitula are typically produced solitarily, or in groups of up to 3, at stem terminals, on peduncles to 15 cm long, to 2 cm in diameter; typically bright yellow in colour. 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 1 to 1.5 cm long and can be yellow-brown; mainly produced in spring.
The fruit of Xerochrysum is an achene. In this species, they are to 2 mm long and 4-angled and oblong in shape with an attached pappus of golden bristles.
Although this species is not widely cultivated it is an attractive and colourful plant well worth growing in cottage style gardens or an understorey plant. To grow at its best, it requires a well–drained soil in full sun. It is a hardy plant for frost and drought areas.
Plants can become woody with age but respond to pruning. Plants can be cultivated into a multi-stemmed clump with many flowers which can put on quite a show.
The flower heads are insect pollinated and will provide food for native butterflies and larvae.
From seed which is easy; no pre-treatment is required. Fruits are wind dispersed and can be hand collected during the summer months.
Propagation from cuttings is also fairly easy and reliable.
Plants and seeds readily available commercially.
Xerochysum viscosum resembles Xerochrysum bracteatum, but it is distinguished by the narrower and sticky leaves and smaller flower heads.
Xerochrysum viscosum was previously known as Bracteantha viscosa and references to this name 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.
Xerochrysum – from the Greek xeros (Ξερός) meaning ‘dry’ and chrysos (Χρυσός) meaning “golden”, referring to the dry, papery bracts which are golden-yellow in many species.
viscosum – From Latin viscosus – basasically meaning “viscous” or “sticky”, referring to the sticky nature of this species.
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
Australian Plants Society (Australia) plant profile for Xerochrysum viscosum https://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/xerochrysum-viscosum/
Gardening with Angus profile page for Xerochrysum viscosum https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/xerochrysum-viscosum-sticky-everlasting-daisy/
NSW Flora online (PlantNET) Xerochrysum viscosum profile page: https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Xerochrysum~viscosum