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Who says proteas cannot be transplanted?

A few years ago I was on top of Table Mountain just west of Maclears Beacon when I came across a ‘funny’ conebush. It didn’t look like either the Cape Peninsula endemic Ld strobilinum or the more widely spread Sickle-leaf Conebush - Leucadendron xanthoconus. I took an ecoscrap of the strange plant and - just in case it was a hybrid - I took ecoscraps of the potential parents. Tony soon identified the conebush for me as a Ld strobilinum x xanthoconus hybrid which is known from Table Mountain and documented in Ion Williams’ revision of Leucadendron.

I casually left one Ld strobilinum cone on my window sill in my study and it wasn’t too long before the seeds dropped out, perhaps encouraged by a shake or two of the cone. I rather glibly took the seed and scattered them in a sandy corner of my garden and a few months later I had a whole lot of Ld strobilinum seedlings. Not being satisfied with this location I uprooted one of the now 3cm high plants and moved it to my protea bed. I became rather attached and proud of my conebush and thought that they were really easy to grow. The next summer lots of new growth appeared and the plant was very happy indeed.

Then came a problem. I sold my house. Oh no, but what about my Ld strobilinum? Well, on the day I moved out of the house I couldn’t bear to leave it behind so I carelessly uprooted my Ld strobilinum along with the still attached 150 mm tap root and proteoid roots as well. It was placed on my car mat for a 5km journey where the plant was replanted and well watered for the rest of that summer.

Today, which is now 3 years later, the plant is a strapping young lad or lass (for I know not which yet), pushing over half a metre high!

Nigel Forshaw

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