Annuals or short-lived perennials, (20–)40–70(–100) cm, arachnose, pannose, or woolly. Leaves: basal and cauline, obovate, 5–20 cm × 10–45 mm, margins usually entire to undulate, sometimes dentate, lyrate, or pinnately lobed (basal and proximal cauline usually withering before flowering, their bases petioliform); distal cauline smaller (sessile, bases clasping). Peduncles (6–)10–20(–30) cm, sometimes with 1 or 2 leaves (1–3 cm). Phyllaries: outer appressed, linear to linear-lanceolate, abaxial faces arachnose (appendages 1–3 mm, blunt, woolly); inner appressed, ± lanceolate (appendages 4–6 mm, rounded to acute, ciliate). Ray florets 22–30 in 1 series; corolla laminae (17–)20–30 × 2–4 mm, abaxial faces violet, adaxial white (sometimes yellowish proximally). Cypselae obovoid, 2–3 mm, sericeous (hairs from bases) and tomentulose (on faces); pappi of 5–8, ovate to oblong, hyaline scales 0.5–4 mm (outer shorter). 2n = 18.
Phenology: Flowering (Jan–)Apr–Nov.
Habitat: Roadsides, waste places, especially in sandy soils near coasts
Elevation: 0–300 m
Introduced; Calif., Africa.
N. T. Norlindh (1964, 1965) treated Arctotis venusta as separate from A. stoechadifolia. In the sense of Norlindh, the latter is a rare endemic of sand dunes of the Southwestern Cape of Africa and A. venusta is common, more widespread, sometimes weedy in its native range, and cultivated elsewhere as an ornamental. Specimens from California examined for this treatment most closely resemble A. venusta in having tap roots with erect stems not rooting at nodes and phyllaries with blunt, woolly appendages less than 3 mm.