Identifying Pincushions - Leucospermum
The genus Leucospermum is most easily identified by the long styles which protrude from the inflorescence, creating the impression of a pincushion. The inflorescences are axillary, never terminal, and the involucral bracts are small and inconspicuous. The three outer perianth segments are partly fused to form a tube at the bottom of the flower, while the forth segment is mostly free and often elongated. The leaves may have a many-toothed apex: virtually all Proteaceae with more than three glandular teeth to the leaves are pincushions. These teeth are apparently nectaries, but their function is unknown.
The hairs on Leucospermum leaves are of two types: long, thin hairs (trichomes) which occur in all other local Proteaceae genera, and short, curly hairs which are confined to pincushions. These curly hairs give the leaves the appearance of being covered by a thin layer of white or grey wool which can be rubbed off.
Care is needed to distinguish Leucospermum from Diastella and Vexatorella, but the axillary inflorescences, inconspicuous involucral bracts and the partly fused outer three perianth segments are unique to the Pincushions. With the exception of the Flat-, Louse- and Sandveld- Pincushions, Pincushions have large inflorescences which cannot be confused with either the Vexators or the Silkypuffs.
Four major groups of Leucospermum can be immediately recognized:
Various subgenera: species with larger, bird-pollinated inflorescences with all four perianth lobes fused at the tips below the anthers.
LEUCOSPERMUM: species with medium-sized, yellow, insect-pollinated inflorescences with three perianth lobes fused below the anthers and one free.
HAMATUM: species with small, few-flowered heads resembling grappling irons. Creeping along ground pretending to be Sourfigs (Carpobrotus).
DIASTELLOIDEA: species with small, insect-pollinated inflorescences. All four perianth lobes are free at the tips and curl back to resemble four small lice.
CRINITAE: species with flat-topped inflorescences, pollinated by both insects and birds. The perianth does not curl back after opening.
Pollen presenters, leaf shape and number of teeth, involucral bracts and plant growth form are most often used in identifying the different species. With experience most Pincushions can be identified by their leaves alone.
1. Styles greater than 35 mm long, occasionally only 30 mm long in some plants goto 1
1' Styles 10-35 mm long, seldom exceeding 30 mm in length goto 6
2. Styles less than 70 mm long & involucral bracts lanceolate to oval in shape, tightly pressed against the stalk & overlapping like tiles, pollen presenter parallel to style goto 3
2' Styles either greater than 70 mm long, or if shorter, then involucral bracts linear in shape and untidily loosely arranged, pollen presenter may be curved at right angles to style goto section CARDINISTYLE
3. Involucral receptacle conical in shape tapering to a pointed tip goto 4
3' Involucral receptacle narrowly cylindric in shape with parallel sides and a rounded tip goto section CRASSICAUDEX
4. Perianth tube cylindric in shape, with a uniform diam. goto 5
4' Perianth tube narrow at base becoming wider towards tips goto section TUMIDITUBUS
5. Pollen presenters conic, tapering to the tip and ending in a point, erect rounded tree-like shrubs with a single stout (50-400 mm) main trunk goto section CONOCARPODENDRON
5' Pollen presenters ovoid, obliquely ovoid or hoof-shaped, anthers attached to perianth lobes with a 1-2 mm long stalk goto section BREVIFILAMENTUM
6. Involucral receptacle conic, tapering to a point at the tip, leaves with one or more teeth at the apex goto 7
6' Involucral receptacle with a flat top, leaves with 2-20 teeth, styles filiform, inflorescences changing from green-yellow to orange-crimson with age goto section CRINITAE
7. Inflorescence with more than 10 flowers, no bumps on style goto 8
7' Inflorescence minute with 4-7 flowers, style strongly curved inwards with bumps on the lower end goto section HAMATUM
8. Leaves entire with no teeth and styles always shorter than 30 mm goto 9
8' Leaves with 2 or more teeth, or if single toothed then style 30-35 mm long goto 10
9. Styles very strongly curved to centre of inflorescence, knee bent at junction with pollen presenter, and heart-shaped leaves goto section BREVIFILAMENTUM
9' Styles straight or weakly curved, pollen presenter and style junction not knee bent goto section DIASTELLOIDEA
10. Leaves hairless or apparently hairless goto 11
10' Leaves canescent (grey or white in colour), with a dense, greyish, crisped indumentum (covered with short curly hairs) goto section LEUCOSPERMUM
11. Stems prostrate, some leaves usually secund (twisting round the stem to point upwards), or if stems erect then involucral receptacle flattened or globose goto 12
11' Stems erect, leaves ascending (pointing upwards), loosely overlapping like tiles, involucral receptacle conic or conic depressed, never globose goto section TUMIDITUBUS
12. Pollen presenter conic ovoid, branches arising from a large underground rootstock goto section LEUCOSPERMUM
12' Pollen presenter cylindric obtuse to club-shaped, plants with a single stem goto section DIASTELLOIDEA
The Cylindric Pincushions are characterized by the cylindric shape of the involucral receptacle. They include, in addition to the widespread Wart-stemmed Pincushion, all the species found outside the Cape Floral Kingdom. All species are erect, multiple-stemmed shrubs with a woody underground rootstock and with variable wedge-shaped leaves.
Leucospermum saxosum ESCARPMENT PINCUSHION
Leucospermum cuneiforme WART-STEMMED PINCUSHION LUISIESBOS
Leucospermum innovans TRANSKEI PINCUSHION
Leucospermum gerrardii SOBOLIFEROUS PINCUSHIO
The Tree Pincushions are characterized by their tree-like growth habit, reaching 4 m tall, with a single thick basal trunk. The involucral receptacle is conic to narrowly conic-acute in shape and bears stout, rigid, 50-60 mm long styles with a conic-acute pollen presenter, ending in a sharp tip. The involucral bracts are acuminate or acuminate-recurved.
Leucospermum conocarpodendron conocarpodendron HAIRY
Leucospermum conocarpodendron veridum HAIRLESS
Leucospermum glabrum OUTENIQUA TREE-PINCUSHION
Leucospermum pluridens ROBINSON TREE-PINCUSHION
The Wide-tubed Pincushions are characterized by their conic or conic depressed involucral receptacle, with a at base narrow perianth tube which widens towards the upper end. All are erect or sprawling shrubs with a single main stem. Leaf shape and number of teeth, pollen presenter shape, style length are used to distinguish the species of wide-tubed pincushions .
Leucospermum praecox MOSSELBAY PINCUSHION
Leucospermum fulgens POTBERG PINCUSHION
Leucospermum truncatum LIMESTONE
Leucospermum muirii ALBERTINIA PINCUSHION
Leucospermum erubescens LANGEBERG PINCUSHION
Leucospermum utriculosum BREEDERIVER PINCUSHION
Leucospermum spathulatum CEDERBERG PINCUSHION
Leucospermum profugum PIKETBERG
The Showy Pincushions are characterized by short anther filaments (1-2 mm long), which attach the anthers to the perianth lobes. Leaves tend to be linear-oblong to elliptic in shape, often with a heart-shaped base. The pollen presenter is ovoid, obliquely ovoid or hoof-shaped. This group includes some of the more popular garden and display pincushions.
Leucospermum vestitum SILKY-HAIRED
Leucospermum tottum ELEGANT PINCUSHION
Leucospermum lineare NEEDLE-LEAF PINCUSHION
ORNAMENTAL PINCUSHION BOBEJAANKLOU
Leucospermum patersonii BASTARD
Leucospermum cordatum HEART-LEAF PINCUSHION
The Fireworks Pincushions are characterized by their long styles (55-80 mm long) which are hinged and move through 90o during flowering. The pollen presenter is narrowly cylindric with a pointed tip. The involucral receptacle is narrowly conic acute. All six species are large shrubs 2-3 m tall, with a single main stem.
The six species are easily divided into three groups:
Further classification relies on differences in the involucral bracts, but species in each of the groups can readily be distinguished by having leaves which are either green (hairless) or grey (covered by fine curly woolly hairs).
Leucospermum formosum SILVER-LEAF PINCUSHION
Leucospermum catherinae CATHERINE
Leucospermum grandiflorum GREY-LEAF PINCUSHION LUISIESBOOM
Leucospermum gueinzii KLOOF PINCUSHION
Leucospermum praemorsum NARDOUW PINCUSHION
Leucospermum reflexum ROCKET
The Sandveld Pincushions vary in form from erect to sprawling to creeping shrubs. Their leaves have a dense permanent greyish layer of fine crispy hairs and vary in shape from oblanceolate to wedge-shaped to linear. The perianth is usually straight in the bud, always bright yellow and very sweetly scented; three segments are fused at the tips and one is free. The pollen presenter is club-shaped or cylindric in shape.
The Sandveld Pincushions have diversified on the West Coast. Whereas the Widetube Pincushions (which diversified on the South Coast) have subdivided the habitat by parent material and pH, Sandveld Pincushions all grow on Acid Sands derived principally from sandstone and granite.
The Sandveld Pincushions all produce bright yellow, medium-sized flowerheads. The flowers are straight in the bud. The petals are 3-fused and 1-free. In most of the species the leaves are densely covered with a mat of woolly, grey hairs. The flowers are very sweetly scented.
The Sandveld Pincushions have evolved a wide variety of growth habits (by contrast, the Widetube Pincushions are all erect shrubs with a single stem below), and can further be identified by their leaf shapes and involucral bract shapes (in Widetube Pincushions the petal hairiness is very important).
Like all Pincushions, seeds are produced about two months after flowering. Ants carry the seeds to their nests. After eating off the ant-fruit, the hard, round seeds cannot be grasped by the ants. Thus they remain in the nests, safe from fire and rodents. After a fire, the sun heating the soil, and radiation at night cooling the soil, cues the seeds to germinate during the autumn rains. (Vegetation acts as a blanket and keeps the soil temperatures constant, so seeds do not germinate except after a fire).
There are 6 species/subspecies of Sandveld Pincushion, all of which occur on the West Coast only one species extends beyond the West Coast.
Leucospermum hypophyllocarpodendron hypophyllocarpodendron
GREEN SNAKE-PINCUSHION SLANGBOSSIE
canaliculatum GREY SNAKE-PINCUSHION
Leucospermum tomentosum SALDANA PINCUSHION
Leucospermum rodolentum COMMON
SANDVELD PINCUSHION SANDVELDLUISIESBOS
Leucospermum parile MALMESBURY
Leucospermum arenarium REDELINGHUIS PINCUSHION
The Louse Pincushions are erect, sprawling or decumbent shrubs usually having acute leaves without teeth at the apex. The inflorescences are small and globose, borne in clusters of 2-6 heads, 10-30 mm in diam. The involucral receptacle is never flat. The style is typically short, 10-25 mm long, with a conic-ovoid, cylindric or club-shaped pollen presenter. The perianth colour varies with age, from cream-white to pink or yellow to orange. All four perianth segments separate and curl back to form four small, round 'lice' (luisies) surrounding each style, a feature shared with some Vexatorella species.
The Riversdale Pincushion is an exception among the Louse Pincushions. It has ovate, multi-toothed leaves and is clearly related to the Flat Pincushions. However, it shares many characteristics of the Louse Pincushions and so has been included in this section.
Leucospermum calligerum COMMON LOUSE PINCUSHION LUISIEBOSSIE Erect to suberect shrub. Leaves grey, hairy, with apex pointed - rarely 2-3 dentate. Pollen presenter conic-ovoid.
Leucospermum wittebergense SWARTBERG PINCUSHION
Leucospermum royenifolium EASTERN PINCUSHION
Leucospermum heterophyllum TRIDENT
Leucospermum trunculatum OVAL-LEAF PINCUSHION PATRYSBOS
Leucospermum bolusii GORDONSBAY PINCUSHION
Leucospermum prostratum YELLOW PINCUSHION
Leucospermum pedunculatum WHITE PINCUSHION
Leucospermum secundifolium STALKED PINCUSHION
Leucospermum winteri RIVERSDALE PINCUSHION
The Hook Pincushion is characterized by its minute 4-7 flowered inflorescences and the knobby recurved style. The floral bracts are enlarged to form a cup-like false involucre which clasps the perianth segments. This species may be rodent pollinated.
Leucospermum hamatum RUITERSBOS PINCUSHION
Leucospermum harpagonatum MCGREGOR PINCUSHION
The Flat Pincushions are a cohesive group of four species, two of which are very variable. Erect or sprawling shrubs, characterized by flat involucral receptacles which shape the 20-40 mm diam turban-shaped inflorescences. The perianth lobes do not curl back after flowering, but remain erect. The filiform styles and perianth undergo conspicuous colour changes with age.
Leucospermum oleifolium OVERBERG PINCUSHION
Leucospermum mundii LANGEBERG PINCUSHION
Leucospermum gracile HERMANUS
Leucospermum saxatile KAROO PINCUSHION