Catherinewheel Pincushion Wielblom - Leucospermum catherinae
The Fireworks Pincushions are amongst the most spectacular of the Pincushions. All have flowerheads reminiscent of fireworks displays: The Catherinewheel, the Wheel, the Rocket and the 3 Fountain Pincushions are all large proteas which are spectacular as garden plants. Flowering is from August to December, and the plants attract Sunbirds and Sugarbirds. The fruit ripen in summer and are collected by ants, which eat the white ant-fruit on the seed (Leuco = white, spermum = seed) in their nests, so that the seeds are safely buried where fire and rodents cannot harm them. The seeds only germinate when they detect that the ground above them has been cleared of plants - fire is thus essential for the survival of our proteas! The Catherinewheel Pincushion prefers moist areas in the mountains between 500 and 1200m. A particularly impressive stand occurs on the Middelberg Pass. The plants grow rapidly after a fire, flowering by their third year, and the plants start dying off after 10 years - this suggests that this species is ready for burning after 10 years. This species was well collected by early botanists all over the area. Today we have few records of this species, especially from atlassers. Has its abundance declined? Is it going extinct?