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Felicia amelloides (blue marguerite)

Blue marguerite is a South African perennial, popularly cultivated for its bright blue flower heads.

Purple flower of blue marguerite

Felicia amelloides

Species information

Scientific name: 

Felicia amelloides (L.) Voss

Common name: 

blue marguerite, blue daisy, Paris daisy.

Conservation status: 

Not threatened.

Habitat: 

Coastal sand dunes, sandy flats, exposed stony hillsides, gravelly slopes, basalt cliffs and among rock outcrops.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental, sand dune stabiliser.

Known hazards: 

None known.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Asteranae
Order: 
Asterales
Family: 
Compositae/ Asteraceae
Genus: Felicia

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.

Genus: 
Felicia

Discover more

Geography and 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. 

Description

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 and 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.

Uses

Felicia amelloides has appeared on South African stamps between 2000 and 2003 (see image, below). 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.

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%

Cultivation

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.

South African stamp featuring Felicia amelloides

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

The Living Collections at both Kew Gardens and Wakehurst include blue marguerites. They can be seen growing at Kew in the Temperate House, in bed number 23.

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.

References and credits

Cullen, J., Alexander, J.C.M, Brickell, C.D. (eds) (2000). The European Garden Flora Vol. VI Dicotyledons (Part IV): 583. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Grau, J. (1973). Revision der Gattung Felicia (Asteraceae). Mitteilungen der Botanischen Staatssammlung Munchen 9: 195-705.

Hilliard, O.M. (1977). Compositae in Natal. University of Natal Press.

Image courtesy of www.AfricaStamps.co.uk

Huxley, A., Griffiths, M. & Levy, M. (eds) (1992). The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening. Vol. 2 (D to K): 283. Macmillan Press, London.

Kew Science Editor: Nicholas Hind
Kew contributors: Steve Davis (Sustainable Uses Group), Emma Tredwell, Andrew Luke
Copyediting: Emma Tredwell

While every effort has been taken to ensure that the information contained in these pages is reliable and complete, the notes on hazards, edibility and suchlike included here are recorded information and do not constitute recommendations. No responsibility will be taken for readers’ own actions.

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