The Berkheya Barbata or Coast Thistle is a beautiful sunflower-like bloom but it’s a nightmare to touch. The leaves are bordered by long, thin thorns whilst the stems and bracts hamper its potential as a cut-flower.
This Thistle is a perennial and can grow up to 60cm in height. Plants produce numerous stems to form a dense and entangled shrub that can be found along and over rocks and other vegetation. The younger leaves are usually covered by a protective cotton-like layer that rub off as the plant matures. The leaves themselves are arranged in pairs, up to 60mm long and 25mm wide, bright green and glossy above with white, dense hairy cover below.
The flower heads can sometimes grow to the size of a hand (around 100mm in diameter) and have an outer ring of bright yellow to orange-yellow petals and a matching centre. At the end of the flower’s lifespan, the spiny bracts that cover the plant create a protective layer for the seeds.
These flowers can be found in harsh, coastal areas as well as in deep sands, rocky outcrops and along cliffs.