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IDM Swaziland - Sugarbushes - Protea

The Grassveld Sugarbushes are among the most 'primitive' of the Sugarbushes found in southern Africa and are best distinguished from the Mountain and Savanna Sugarbushes by their hairless or near hairless involucral bracts, although some species do have hairs. It is difficult to rigorously define the group, but the following characters are helpful:

  • Young stems are hairless, as are the involucral bracts (except in P. caffra);
  • Flowerheads tend to be less than 50 mm long, except P. caffra), or to have a long scaly stalk;
  • Flowers may either protrude or be contained within the involucral bracts;
  • The petals may be hairless or hairy, occasionally with a tuft of hairs on the tip;
  • Styles are usually strongly curved; and,
  • The leaves are hairless

The Mountain Sugarbushes, outside of the Cape, tend to have the largest heads (over 70 mm long). Similarly, their leaves are large - 100-200 mm long - and either hairy or hairless. The involucral bracts may be either hairy or hairless, and are usually slightly longer than the flowers. The perianth is longer than 45 mm. The involucral bracts tend not to close after flowering to protect the developing fruits, thus having no other function than protecting the developing buds. The involucral receptacles rise in the centre to a distinctive point.

Spoon-bract Sugarbushes are characterized by their spoon-shaped inner involucral bracts.

The Savanna Sugarbushes have young stems which are hairy. Flowerheads are medium sized (about 50 mm across). The involucral bracts are generally covered with silky hairs. The perianth is hairy, 20-50 mm long. Styles are more than 30 mm long, usually straight or very slightly curved, and as long as or longer than the involucral bracts. Both species produce clusters of flowerheads at the ends of branches, although in P. gaguedi the flowerhead is more usually solitary

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