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Proteas of the Cederberg

The Cederberg is reknowned as a getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. The Clanwilliam Cedar (so is it Ceder- or Cedar-berg?) and the Snow Protea epitomise the expanses and exotic rock formations, with the Waboom and Laurel-leaf Protea fringing the ramparts. Ten genera and 61 distinct species/subspecies occur in the area: each of the Proteas, Conebushes and Spiderheads contain 10 or more species. Fortunately, with the exception of Paw Spiderheads, there are seldom more than three species within any section of a genus, making identification of species relatively easy.

And yet much of the area is devoid of proteas! The Wilderness is not what it seems - it is certainly not pristine. Millions of Waboom trees were killed for tannic acid in the last century. The Snow Protea has features which suggest that it should release its seeds in snow - was it a species of the glacial maximum as appears to be the case with the Clanwilliam Cedar? What is its future in a scenario of global warming? Only by mapping the location of proteas can we understand whether the "gaps" are the result of history (past fires and exploitation) or climate. Part of conservation is trying to ensure that the Snow Protea, its 60 cousins and many more species as special as the Cedar Tree itself, have a future in our world.

The Cederberg herein is that area South of Pakhuis Pass, North of the Middelberg Pass (32o45'S), East of the Olifants River and West of the Tanqwa Karoo.


A large shrub or tree with leaves in whorls of six; furry fruit like almonds; flowers two per bract. B. stellatifolium Wild Almond


A resprouter; leaves needle-shaped; male flowerheads branched; fruit hairy, stored in a cupule on female plants. A. pallasia Needle-leaf Featherbush


A "pincushion" with small terminal heads (a panical of 1-6 heads); leaves with a single nectary, 5-13 mm wide, 15-30 mm long. V. amoena Swartruggens Vexator


1. Styles 15-25 mm long, flowerheads small. [Insect pollinated?] goto 2

1' Styles > 30 mm long. [Bird pollinated.] goto 3

2. Leaves with 3 teeth, densely woolly-haired, 7-15 mm wide; petals deep yellow, three parts fused one free; tall - erect to 3 m. L. rodolentum Sandveld Pincushion

2. Leaves with a single (rarely 2-3) tooth, shaggy haired, 4-8 mm wide; petals cream tinged red, all four free at tip; habit erect-sprawling to 2 m. L. calligerum Arid Louse-Pincushion

3. Petal tube uniform in diameter. goto 4

3' Petal tube with a bulb-like swelling at the base; creeping habit; leaves with single (rarely 2-3) tooth, short-hairy; styles strongly incurved, 30-40 mm long. L. spathulatum Cederberg Wide-tube-Pincushion

4. Anthers with a short (ca 1-2 mm long) stalk; pollen-p. ovoid; style 50-60 mm long. (Section Brevifilamentum) goto 5

4' Style 50-80 mm long, hinged and moving through 90o when flowering; pollen-presenter narrowly cylindric, tip pointed; anthers stalkless. (Section Cardinistylus) goto 6

5. Style straight when mature; petals pink; leaves horizontal; involucral bracts spreading to clasping. L. tottum Elegant Showy-Pincushion

5' Style curving inwards when mature; petals orange-red; leaves erect; involucral bracts spreading. L. vestitum Silky-haired Showy-Pincushion

6. Petals bending downwards on opening giving head a rocket look; leaves grey with crispy hairs, 20-55 mm long; involucral bracts tighly clasping stalk. L. reflexum Rocket Fireworks-Pincushion

6' Pollen-presenters curved sharply giving catherine-wheel look; leaves hairless with wedge-like base, stalked, 90-130 mm long; involucral bracts ovate, tightly clasping stalk and overlapping. L. catherinae Catherine-Wheel Fireworks-Pincushion

6" Leaves hairless with wedge-like base and "bitten-off" tip, stalked, 70-80 mm long; involucral bracts narrow, loosely arranged. L. praemorsum Nardouw-fountain Fireworks-Pincushion

Paranomus (cylindrical heads (> 25 mm long) comprising involucres with flowers in fours; leaves all divided.)

1. Leaves hairless when mature. goto 2

1' Leaves silver hairy, tips very short; petals and style +17 mm long; pollen-presenter 2 mm long, P. tomentosus Hairy-leaf Common-Scepter

2. Petals, ovary+style +9 mm long; pollen-presenter 0.5-.7 mm long; stalk to head short-absent; lower branches creeping; leaves finely divided to 50 mm long curving inwards. P. lagopus Rabbit-paw Common-Sceptre

2' Petals, ovary+style 13-15 mm long; pollen-presenter 1 mm long; stalk up to half length of head; stems erect; leaves to 60 mm long. P. bracteolaris Hairless Common-Sceptre


Globular heads comprising more than 10 involucres each with 4-9 florets; leaves needle-like; petals hairy; pollen-presenter cylindrical; bracts blunt pointed. S. lanatus Common Powderpuff

Spatalla (Involucres with 3 florets; heads cylindrical; pollen-presenter ovoid; style bent sharply near tip.)

1. Leaves almost needle-like but slightly grooved on upper surface, tip blunt and rounded; stems hairless. goto 2

1' Leaves needle-like, tip sharply mucronate; stems densely woolly. S. incurva Swan-head Triple-Spoon

2. Leaves and bracts hairless; heads 10-25 mm long; stems sprawling; petals neat close-pressed hairy, petal tube 4-5 mm long. S. confusa Long-tube Triple-Spoon

2' Leaves and bracts hairy; heads 20-70 mm long; stems straight and erect; petals densely woolly to shaggy haired. S. caudata Woolly-haired Triple-Spoon


1. Heads comprised of smaller heads grouped in a raceme. goto 2

1' Head a solitary capitulum, often several per branch. goto 4

2. Heads borne on a long (>70 mm) common stalk or on erect wavy stems; florets straight; leaves stout. (Section Elongatae) goto 3

2' Florets slightly to strongly curved in bud; heads borne on a short common stalk. S. decipiens Sandveld Curly-Spiderhead

3. Multiple-stemmed with rootstock; leaves 25-35 tipped, hairless. S. leipoldtii Louis-Leipoldt's Stalked-Spiderhead

3' Single-stemmed at base with a few wavy erect stems; 6-14 heads on common stalk 20-50 mm long; leaves 6-9 tipped, hairless, in whorls. S. confragosa Wavy Stalked-Spiderhead

4. Head with a conspicuous stalk; florets curved in bud. (section Acrocarpae.) goto 5

4' Head without a stalk; florets straight in bud; leaves short giving bottle-bursh appearance, stalk 3-5 mm long, grey crispy-haired. S. millefolia Millileaf Stalkless-Spiderhead

5. Plants creeping. goto 6

5. Plants erect. goto 7

6. Rootstock; dense creeping mat-like shrub; branches and leaves hairless when mature. S. cygnea Swan Paw-Spiderhead

6' Single-stemmed at base; sprawling shrub; branches and leaves silky haired when mature. S. effusa Spreading Paw-Spiderhead

7. Style hairless. goto 8

7. Style hairy. goto 9

8. Leaves grey, sparsely haired, thin, stalk 15-25 mm long; petal hairs adpressed (neatly lying against petals); peduncle 20-60 mm long. S. fucifolia Northern Paw-Spiderhead

8' Leaves silver, robust, stalk 8-15 mm long; petal hairs spreading; peduncle 5-30 mm long. S. aitonii Marshmallow Paw-Spiderhead

9. Short leaves with red tip, 20-25 mm long, silvery silky haired; florets yellow; petal hairs adpressed (neatly lying against petals). S. flava Wuppertal Paw-Spiderhead

9' Leaves 35-40 mm long, grey haired; florets carmine; petal hairs spreading. S. pedunculata Fan-leaf Paw-Spiderhead


1. Styles 40-130 mm long. goto 2

1' Styles up to 40 mm long. goto 9

2. Involucral bracts with dense white-woolly hairs on outer side. (King & Snow Proteas.) goto 3

2' Involucral bracts with a prominent beard. (Bearded Proteas.) goto 5

2" Involucral bracts hairless, perhaps fringed with delicate hairs. goto 6

3. Leaves elongated without needle-like stalk; creeping bushes; heads 60-160 mm in diameter; fruit white-haired; involucral bracts long and narrow. (Snow Proteas.) goto 4

3' Leaves with rounded blade and a long needle-like stalk; multiple erect stems from a rootstock; head large, 120-300 mm diameter; fruit black-haired. P. cynaroides King Protea

4. Style 55-80 mm long; leaf blades folded through middle; single-stemmed tangled bush. P. cryophila Snowball Snow-Protea

4' Style 30-45 mm long; leaf blades flat with wavy margins; stems underground. P. scolopendriifolia Hart's-Tongue-Fern Snow-Protea

5. Inflorescence oblong, 40-60 mm wide; leaves elliptic, shortly stalked (2-20 mm long) at base, with grey waxy bloom; tall, erect. P. laurifolia Laurel-leaf Bearded-Protea

5' Inflorescence bowl-shaped, 50-150 mm wide; leaves variable in shape, not stalked, often with grey waxy bloom; prominent cone in centre of head; habit bush-like. P. magnifica Queen Bearded-Protea

6. Heads bowl-shaped; involucral bracts not prominent from side. goto 7

6' Heads chalice-shaped; involucral bracts prominently visible, surrounding florets on sides. goto 8

7. Involucral bracts brown-haired on outside; leaves 40-75 mm long, grey; fruit released leaving prominent brown recepticle (kastaing); killed by fire. P. glabra Clanwilliam Shaving-brush-Protea

7' Involucral bracts usually hairless; leaves 80-180 mm long, green to grey, red when young; a resprouter from buds beneath the bark. P. nitida Wagon Tree (Shaving-Brush Protea)

8. Involucral bracts obtuse, hairless, gummy on outside; seed heads inverted-ice-cream-cone-shape, 100-160 mm long. P. repens Common Sugarbush

8' Involucral bracts oval, fringed with hairs, splaying horizontally on opening; leaves oval to obovate; seed heads 35-60 mm long. P. punctata Water White-Protea

9. Plants with underground or creeping stems; leaves not needle-like. goto 10

9' Erect or semi-erect plants; or, if creeping then leaves needle-like. goto 12

10. Leaves smooth; stems various but leaves all upright and at right angles to stem. (Ground Proteas) goto 11

10' Leaves rough (scabrous); stem underground; leaves in whorled tufts. P. piscina Visgat Dwarf-tufted-Protea

11. Stems underground; leaf blades flat, with a narrow stalk and distinct blade. P. acaulos Common Ground-Protea

11" Stems underground; leaf blades flat, edges strongly curled inwards, with a stalk. P. revoluta Rolled-leaf Ground-Protea

11' Stems creeping on soil surface; leaf soft and flacid, blade flat; prominent scale leaves present. P. laevis Smooth-leaf Ground-Protea

12. Inflorescences small (25-45 mm diameter); plants erect. (Rose Proteas.) goto 13

12' Inflorescences medium (40-100 mm diameter). goto 14

13. Involucral bracts yellow; heads 35-45 mm diameter. P. scolymocephala Thistle Rose-Protea

13' Involucral bracts red with red-black margin; heads 25-35 mm diameter. P. acuminata Black-rim Rose-Protea

14. Heads enfolded by leaves; leaves 25-55 mm wide; involucral bracts hairless; sprawling bush. P. recondita Hidden Penduline-Protea

14' Heads exposed, pendulous; leaves 5-15 mm wide; involucral bracts hairy; erect shrub. P. pendula Nodding Penduline-Protea

14' Heads exposed, pendulous; leaves 1-2 mm wide, dull green; involucral bracts hairless, outermost with needle-like tip; a sprawling bush. P. witzenbergiana Swan Rose-Protea


1. Fruit flat, hairless, stored in cones on plant. (section Alata.) goto 2

1' Fruit a sparsely hairy nut, tip pointed, mottled, dropped when ripe; cones silky long-haired. (section Villosa.) goto 4

1" Fruit a rounded nut, not mottled, not with a pointed tip. goto 6

2. Resprouter, multiple erect stems; typically shorter than 1 m (rarely to 2m). goto 3

2' Single stemmed erect, to 3m tall; involucral leaves ivory-white; male buds red. L. procerum Ivory Sunshine-Conebush

2" Single stemmed with a tuft of branchlets below and erect spindly branches to 2m tall; leaves clasping stem; male buds yellow. L. diemontianum visgat Sunshine-Conebush

3. Cone bracts densely hairy; leaves grey-green to red; cones often partially concealed; otherwise very variable. L. salignum Common Sunshine Conebush

3' Cone bracts hairless, shiny; leaves green-shiny, often tinged red; cones exposed; otherwise very variable. L. s. spissifolium Common Spear-leaf Sunshine-Conebush

4. Leaves obovate; single stemmed below. goto 5

4' Resprouter with multiple-erect stems from a rootstock; leaves linear (< 2 mm wide). L. b. brunioides Foetid Sandveld-Conebush

5. Leaves < 7 mm wide; cones 20 mm diametre. L. dubium CedErberg Sandveld-Conebush

5' Leaves > 7 mm wide; cones 25 mm diametre. L. concavum Pakhuis Sandveld-Conebush

6. Fruit elongate with two keels, grey; male petal tube fused to style at base; fruit dropped. (Section Carinata.) 7.

6' Fruit a large round nut, hairless, dark brown, dropped when ripe. goto 8

6" Fruit large round, hairy, with style persisting with petals to form a parachute, stored in top-like cones. L. rubrum Spinning-top Silver-Conebush

7. Leaves on male < 9 mm long, > 2 mm wide. L. nitidum Bokkeveld Ridgeseed-Conebush

7' Leaves on male > 9 mm long, < 2 mm wide. L. sericeum Waabooms Ridgeseed-Conebush

8. Female petals free, tips shaggy haired. (Section Membranacea.) goto 9

8' Female petals fused into tube along most of middle length, tips downy haired. (Section Nucifera.) goto 11

9. Single stemmed at base; leaves hairy to hairless. goto 10

9' Resprouter, multiple-stemmed from rootstock; leaves oval to spoon-shaped, thick, hairless; basal bracts to 40 mm long; male heads round. L. arcuatum Red-edge Arid-Conebush

10. Leaves silver-haired, spoon-shaped; involucral bracts numerous, pointed; basal bracts to 30 mm long. L. bonum Gideonskop Arid-Conebush

10' Robust shrub; leaves variable, grey-green, narrowed to base, smaller in males (leaves somewhat resembling L. rubrum) L. pubescens Silky Arid-Conebush

11. Florets green; leaves with grey wax bloom, very variable, crowded towards head; male heads flattened on top. L. loranthifolium Green-flowered Northwestern-Sunconebush

11' Florets yellow; leaves not crowded below head; leaves green or purple. L. glaberrimum Oily Northwestern-Sunconebush goto 12

12. Habit sprawling; leaves green, with narrower base; stems hairless. L. g.glaberrimum Eastern Oily Sunconebush

12' Habit erect; leave

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