Phaenocoma is a genus of South African plants in the pussy's-toes tribe within the sunflower family. The name is derived from the Greek roots φαίνω (to shine) and κόμη (hair), which refer to dry and shiny involucral bracts.Species
There is only one known species, Phaenocoma prolifera (Cape Strawflower). The Strawflower is native to cool, well-drained, sandy, mineral soils - often on slopes. It occurs in full sun, in mountain and valley Fynbos shrublands, throughout the southern parts of the Western Cape, South Africa.Description
It grows to over a meter in height, and tapers at the top, often forming a Christmas-tree shape. The leaves are tiny, rounded, and densely cover the stems.
The purple and pink flowers mostly appear in Spring, on the tips of the upper branches, though they remain for most of the year. What look like petals are actually the bracts. They are rigid, papery and dry and do not wilt. When cut as ornamentals, the flowers also last for years, provided that they are kept dry. For this reason, it is one of several species which are given the nickname "Everlasting". (The other plants commonly given this name include species of Syncarpha, Helichrysum and Edmondia) The flowers remain on the bushes and become gradually more pale through the summer.Taxonomy
The genus, and its sole surviving species, is an archaic and outlying relict plant.