|Sydney Flannel Flower|
|Actinotus helianthi at Henry Head Track, Botany Bay National Park|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Actinotus helianthi|
Despite its appearance, it is not a member of the daisy family but rather a species of flowering plant of the Apiaceae (formerly Mackinlayaceae) family, the same family as the carrot. Its generic name, meaning "furnished with rays", is derived from the Greek stem aktin-/ακτιν- "ray" or "spoke of a wheel" or "sunbeam", while its specific epithet is derived from its resemblance to the genus Helianthus. An iconic Sydney plant, its floral display has horticultural appeal which has seen limited use in the home garden and cut flower industry. It grows alongside the related Lesser Flannel Flower.
The Flannel Flower is generally a herbaceous shrub growing up to 50 cm (18 in) high, although rare specimens can be found to be 1.5 m (5 feet) high. The stem, branches and leaves of the plant are a pale grey in colour, covered in downy hair (rather like a flannel in texture). The attractively lobed leaves are up to 10 cm (4 in) long and 7 cm (3 in) wide, with daisy-shaped flowerheads around 5 or occasionally 8 cm (2-3 in) in diameter. The bracts are cream to white in colour. Flowering occurs in spring and may be profuse after bushfires.
Plants may be propagated by seed or cutting and grow in a well-drained sunny position, and are suitable for use in a rockery or cottage garden. The Mount Annan Botanic Garden has been involved in selecting and breeding superior cultivars for the home garden and the cut flower industry. One selection developed thus far has been named Actinotus "Federation Star", and was chosen to be the New South Wales floral emblem for the Centenary of Federation (1901-2001).
Popular culture 
The flannel flower is an iconic Sydney plant and has been used in imagery and art since colonial times.
In St Bede's Church, Drummoyne in Sydney's western suburbs, the early 20th century work The Waratah window by Alfred Handel depicts Australian native flowers, including the red Waratah, emblem of the state of New South Wales; as well as Flannel Flowers, Christmas Bells and Wattle.
It is also the Australian symbol for mental health awareness
- Liddell & Scott (1980). Greek-English Lexicon, Abridged Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-19-910207-4.
- Blombery, Alec (1965). "The genus Actinotus". Australian Plants (ASGAP) 3 (22): 63–65. ISSN 0005-0008.
- Elliot, Rodger W. & Jones, David L. (1982). "A-Ca". In Elliot, Rodger W. & Jones, David L. Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants suitable for cultivation 2. Lothian Publishing. pp. 1–507. ISBN 0-85091-143-5.
- von Richter, L. and Offord, C. (1998). Flannel flowers. In The New Rural Industries. (Ed. K.W. Hyde). p505-511. (RIRDC: Canberra)
The Flannel Flower is also the emblem of the Tasmanian Mental Health Council and is worn as a stud (or brooch) on the Left Coat Lapel