Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fab 5 - Pincushions

The fab 5 for this month is leucospermums commonly known as pincushions, they form part of the Protea family Proteaceae and there is 48 species in the genus. Most leucospermums occur in the Western Cape of South Africa. A lot of the species are popular as cut flowers and as garden plants.

Flowers of pincushions are mostly pollinated by sun birds and sugar birds, once seeds are ripe they are released immediately. In the wild the seeds will fall on the ground and get buried by insects or ants. During a fire (which is common in the Western Cape) the mother plant will die but the seeds underground will germinate and replenish the population.

Leucospermum muirii
Leucospermum muirii is an endangered bushy shrub growing up to 1.5m tall. The leaves are pale grey green and it bares yellow flowers from August to October.

Leucospermum cordifolium

Leucospermum cordifolium bares the most flowers from July all the way till the end of November. Flowers are orange and an added attraction is the numerous bird species found pollinating them when they in full flower.

Leucospermum reflexum var. luteum

Leucospermum reflexum commonly known as the rocket pincushion is a rounded silvery grey leaved shrub that grows up to 4m tall with either yellow or deep orange to crimson flowers.

Leucospermum erubescens
Leucospermum erubescens grows naturally on hot, dry, north facing slopes. Flowers are rounded and are produced in clusters of up to four heads per stem. The flower colour changes constantly as it ages from bright orange to deep red and normally last on the bush for about 2 months.

Leucospermum bolusii
Leucospermum bolusii is quiet unusual for a pincushion in that it flowers are creamy white in colour, where other pincushions are normally orange or yellow. They grow to about 1.5m tall and flower heads are flat and rounded. Flowering from mid September to early November they are pollinated by bees, wasps, flies, butterflies and moths. The species is named after Harry Bolus (1834-1911) a South African botanist.

These fab 5 pincushions are very different from each other but will all look beautiful in home gardens.

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