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Proteas of the Agulhas Plain

The following key is provided for the Agulhas region, here defined as from the south end of Kleinriviervlei, along the Stanford Napier Road (via Akkedisberg Pass - R326), the Napier-Bredasdorp Road (R316) and the Bredasdorp Agulhas Road (R319). The Key should also be applicable to the De Hoop area and the Ruens, but not Potberg or on the Kleinrivier Mountains at Hermanus.

This area is one of our atlassing priorities: it appears to lack the charisma of the higher mountains. However, there are superb views, fynbos and mountains in the region. Ecotourism is growing in the area and there are attempts to put the region on the Biodiversity Map - apart from its high plant species richness, it is one of the richer centres of endemism in the Cape Flora, as exemplified by the many protea endemics:
Ld elimense elimense, Ld laxum, Ld stelligerum, Ls heterophyllum, Ls patersonii, Ls pedunculatum, Mi saxatilis, Pr longifolia minor, Pr pudens, Se nervosa, Sp ericoides, Sp squamata.

Accommodation exits in most of the towns and at Springfield.


1. Leaves divided Ha drupacea

1' Leaves simple goto 2

2. Leaves short: 30-40 mm long Ha sericea

2' Leaves long: 40-80 mm long Ha gibbosa

Aulax umbellata


1. Leaves all divided Pa abrotanifolius

1' Leaves of two types Pa sceptrum-gustavianus

Sorocephalus tenuifolius


1. Headlets with stalks Sp curvifolia

1' Headlets stalkless goto 2

2. Floral bracts conspicuous after flowering Sp squamata

2' Leaves ericoid Sp ericoides


1. Flowerheads multiple goto 2

1' Flowerheads simple Se phylicoides

2. Flowerheads with long stalks Se elongata

2' Flowerheads with short stalks goto 3

3. Florets straight Se fasciflora

3' Florets kinked goto 4

4. Floral bracts fluted Se nervosa

4' Floral bracts plain goto 5

5. Plants erect, single stemmed Se adscendens

5' Plants multiple-stemmed from rootstock, often sprawling Se rubricaulis


1. Resprouter with multiple stems Mi cucullatus

1' Single-stemmed below goto 2

2. Headlets with a tube Mi hirtus

2' Headlets with a cowl-like leaf Mi saxatilis


1. Plants erect or sprawling goto 2

1. Plants creeping along ground goto 7

2. Robust, tree-like goto 3

2' Large shrubs goto 4

3. Pollen presenter conic, tip pointed Ls conocarpodendron viridum

3' Pollen presenter hoof-shaped, leaves with a silver edge Ls patersonii

4. Louse pincushions: petals curling back into 4 lice goto 5

4' Petals split 3+1 - fused at base and tip goto 6

5. Habit sprawling, leaves elliptic Ls calligerum

5' Habit erect, straggling, leaves ovoid Ls truncatulum

6. Perianth tube swollen at upper end Ls truncatum

6' Anthers with a short stalk, hoof-shaped pollen presenter, leaves get smaller to just below flowerhead Ls cordifolium

7. Flowerheads bright yellow, perianth separating  3+1, leaves with grey mat of hairs Ls h. hypophyllocarpodendron

7' Flowerheads with flat tops, delicate Ls gracile

7" Flowerheads small, rounded, petals curl back into 4 lice goto 8

8. Leaves wide, 1-3 toothed Ls heterophyllum

8' Leaves narrow with one tooth goto 9

9. Multi-stemmed with bole, flowerheads yellow aging red Ls prostratum

9' Single-stemmed, flowerheads cream aging mauve Ls pedunculatum


1. Fruit hairy goto 2

1' Fruit hairless goto 4

2. Fruit slightly hairy, habit bushy below with tall ascending stems, cone bracts spreading Ld laxum

2' Fruit very hairy, habit either erect or resprouter, cones variable goto 3

3. A low resprouter, leaves rounded Ld coriaceum

3' Single-stemmed below, leaves linear, cones kept Ld linifolium

4. Fruit rounded on both sides Ld tinctum

4' Fruit rounded on one side, triangular on other Ld elimense elimense

4" Fruit triangular, <5 mm wide Ld salicifolium

4"' Fruit flat, >5 mm wide goto 5

5. Leaves rough goto 6

5' Leaves smooth, one kind only - flat, cone bracts curved up goto 7

5" Leaves smooth, needle-like or needle-like when young and flat when mature, cone bracts flat goto 15

6. Leaves to 25 mm long, 4-5 mm wide Ld modestum

6' Leaves 7-8 mm wide, 23-28 mm long Ld stelligerum

7. Resprouting, multiple-stemmed goto 8

7' Erect, single-stemmed below goto 9

8. Cones with grey-white hairs Ld salignum

8' Cones hairless Ld spissifolium spissifolium

9. Leaves hairy goto 10

9' Leaves hairless goto 11

10. Leaves silver-green Ld xanthoconus

10. Leaves pale grey Ld meridianum

11. Cones hidden by involucral leaves goto 12

11' Cones exposed: involucral leaves flat goto 13

12. Leaves to 85 mm long, 11 mm wide, male head 15 mm across Ld cryptocephalum

12. Leaves to 95 mm long, 17 mm wide, male head 21 mm across Ld laureolum

13. Leaves narrow Ld coniferum

13' Leaves broad goto 14

14. Seed asymmetrical, large brown bracts below heads Ld microcephalum

14. Seed large and flat, bracts below heads small Ld gandogeri

15. Leaves needlelike Ld teretifolium

15' Adult leaves not needlelike goto 16

16. Leaves spoon-shaped, sprawler, silver cones Ld muirii

16' Leaves broad, tall, brown-ridged cones Ld platyspermum


1. Inner bracts spoon-shaped goto 2

1' Inner bracts bearded goto 7

1" Inner bracts not spoon-shaped or bearded goto 8

2. Plants erect and tall goto 3

2' Plants sprawling or small or flowerhead with cone of awns goto 6

3. Leaves about as long as broad goto 4

3' Leaves much longer than broad goto 5

4. Involucral bracts black edged, awns purplish black Pr eximia!

4' Involucral bracts without black rim, awns whitish Pr compacta

5. Leaf margins wavy, stink smell, involucral bracts with brown polish Pr susannae

5' Leaf margins robust, flowerheads and stems robust, involucral bracts glossy Pr obtusifolia

6. A low bush, cone on flowerhead very prominent, heads vertical Pr longifolia

6' A low bush, a small version of above Pr longifolia minor

6" A creeping bush, leaves pointing up from trailing stems, heads horizontal Pr pudens

7. A resprouter - multiple-stemmed Pr speciosa

7' Non-resprouter, green heads Pr coronata

7' not resprouter, two-tone involucral bracts Pr lepidocarpodendron

8. Flowerheads at base of stems on ground goto 9

8' Flowerheads on stem tips on ground goto 10

8" Flowerheads at stem tips goto 11

9. Leaves needle-like Pr subulifolia

9' Leaves heart-shaped Pr cordata

10. Leaves smooth, tongue-shaped Pr acaulos

10' Leaves rough, parallel sided Pr aspera

11. Flowerhead chalice- or cup-shaped goto 12

11' Flowerhead bowl shaped goto 13

12. Seedhead: ice-cream cone Pr repens

12' Flowerhead resembling a shuttle-cock, leaf broad Pr aurea!

13. Tree, leaves grey-green Pr nitida

13' Multi-stemmed resprouter, leaves with a long stalk Pr cynaroides

13" Delicate erect bush, heads small (30-35mm across) Pr scolymocephala

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