The Metalasias on our dune are challenging me to find out their names, to place them by species in their Asteraceae family.


These shrubs with their papery flower heads and twisted leaves all seemed similar to me. I compared notes on iNaturalist, studied my wild flower books and then saw the differences that made them unique.

Early summer – Metalasia flower head with closed bracts

Metalasia muricata‘s flower heads range from slightly pink to creamy and white papery bracts. Its leaves are lance shaped and hooked at the tips. Sometimes the leaves point downwards but they always appear in auxiliary tufts. These shrubs are woody underneath with a verdant crown above. It grows upto 2-3m tall on dune slopes.

Next to Metalasia muricata stands Metalasia densa. Its papery bracts are more brownish. Before the cold in May, their bracts opened up and delicate florets showed their faces. Its leaves are densely twisted in tufts. It forms a beautiful round bush 1-1.5m tall and likes sandy flats.

This is what the hairy fruit of Metalasia densa looks like:

Even deep into winter these Metalasias stand their ground against the wind and the rain,

and still they glow at sunset like candles in the wind.

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