Felicia amelloides (blue marguerite)
Blue marguerite is a South African perennial, popularly cultivated for its bright blue flower heads.
About this species
Blue marguerite is a long-lived member of the daisy family, which can flower throughout the year. It belongs to the genus Felicia, which is thought to be named after a German official, Herr Felix, who died in 1846.
Geography & Distribution
This species is native to South Africa, where it can be found growing on coastal sand dunes, sandy flats, exposed stony hillsides, gravelly slopes, basalt cliffs and among outcropping rocks below 1,000 metres above sea level.
Felicia amelloides is a densely branched herbaceous perennial, which grows up to 1 m high. The stems are green to dark red and the leaves are rough, hairy and borne opposite each other on the stem. The leaves are dark green above and light green below. Because of a covering of short stiff hairs, stems and leaves can feel like fine sandpaper to the touch.
The compound flower head (capitulum) is bright yellow in the centre (the bisexual disc florets) with a ring of sky-blue female ray florets around the outside. The particularly striking flower heads are about 3 cm in diameter and are held well above the leaves on leafless stalks, which are up to 18 cm long. Unlike many other members of the daisy family, the flowerheads of F. amelloides do not close at night.
The cypselas (fruits) are dark brown with tiny hairs. Each fruit is shed with its pappus which, acting like a tiny parachute, helps to disperse them.
Threats & Conservation
There are no major threats to this species in the wild at present. This could change in the future, as a result of the disturbance of coastal habitat by the construction industry, in particular for the building of holiday homes.
Felicia amelloides has appeared on South African stamps between 2000 and 2003 (see image, left). It is mainly used as an ornamental, but has also been used to stabilise sand dunes, due to its ability to withstand dry, windy areas.
Image, left: South African stamp featuring Felicia amelloides (Image courtesy of www.AfricaStamps.co.uk)
Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage
Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.
Description of seeds: Average 1,000 seed weight = 2 g.
Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: None.
Composition values: Oil content 28.1%, Protein 18.8%.
This South African Felicia makes an excellent garden plant. It is commonly found in cultivation in South Africa and is also grown in Europe. A variant with variegated leaves is available.
Blue marguerite can be propagated easily from cuttings or seeds. A free-draining substrate is required and plants should be given regular, moderate watering. Felicia amelloides has been grown from seed at Kew for display in the Temperate House, where temperatures are kept above a minimum of 3˚C in order to overwinter the plants successfully. A position in full sun is ideal. Whitefly and aphids have proved problematic from time to time and these are kept under control by the use of biological and cultural controls. In order to keep blue marguerites looking their best they should be re-propagated each year; however, it is easier to trim back the plants from time to time. Dead-heading can also be carried out to prolong the flowering period.
The blue marguerite at Kew
South Africa Landscape - Kew at the British Museum
Between April and October 2010, Kew and the British Museum brought a small corner of South Africa to the heart of London.
The South Africa Landscape celebrated a shared vision to strengthen cultural understanding and support biodiversity conservation across the world.
Felicia amelloides (blue marguerite) was one of the star plants featured in the Landscape.
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
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This species belongs to...
- newly discovered
- around the world
- of use
- ground breaking
- english garden
- garden plants
- english heritage
Plants & Fungi blogs from Kew
09 Dec 2013
Sarah Cody explains how gap analysis is helping our partners collect the seed of crop wild relatives (CWR) for a project called 'Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change', run jointly by Kew's Millennium Seed Bank and the Global Crop Diversity Trust.
28 Nov 2013
Orchids have the smallest seeds in the world and they produce millions of them, but why? Kew's seed morphologist Wolfgang Stuppy explains the clever survival plan that lies behind this seemingly wasteful strategy.
13 Nov 2013
Sarah Cody explores the valuable contribution that visiting researchers to the Millennium Seed Bank make to our understanding of seed behaviour, through the experiences of Ceci and Nelson, two visitors from Brazil who are helping us unravel the mysteries of orchid seeds.
25 Jan 2013
He may be a Seed Morphologist but Wolfgang Stuppy of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank discovers there is more to the snake gourd than just some strange fruit and eccentric seeds.