Phylica pubescens, commonly called featherhead, is a narrow-leaved erect and evergreen shrub of up to 2 m. The modified leaves or bracts have a feathery appearance at the branch tops. These silky bracts form a sort of shaggy flower-head, about 5 cm in diameter, sheltering the small autumn and winter flowers. Leaves are leathery, concentrated towards branch tips and their edges are rolled under. The flowers are white, very small with a cinnamon fragrance. The feathery bracts overshadow the actual flowers as a feature for the flower market. The fruit is a hard dehiscent, three-sectioned capsule with valves that open upon ripening, releasing the seeds around the end of spring. These seeds have elaiosomes attached to them, serving to feed ants and enticing them to perform seed dispersal duties.
The distribution area of this species is the southern coastal region of the Western Cape in sandstone and limestone veld. The genus comprises about 150 species that mainly grow in Africa. Many of the other Western Cape species within the genus share the attribute that brought these shrubs the Afrikaans name of hardeblaar (hard leaf). The top parts of featherheads are often picked as cut flowers or especially also as dried flowers. The plants are also popular garden subjects, mainly in the winter rainfall area (www.plantzafrica.com).