Leucospermum cordifolium

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Botanical Name
Leucospermum cordifolium
Proteaceae - The Protea family
loo-koh-SPER-mum kor-di-FOH-lee-um
Common Name(s)
English: Pincushion
Afrikaans: Speldekussing; Bobbejaanklou; Luisiesboom; Luisiesbos
Plant Group
  • Fynbos Certain plants endemic to the areas of the Western Cape of South Africa that have a Mediterranean climate of cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers.
  • Shrub A woody plant of relatively low height, having several stems arising from the base and lacking a single trunk; a bush.
Plant Size
  • Medium
    Tree10m to 16m
    Shrub1m to 2m
    Perennial/ground cover40cm to 60cm
    Bulb40cm to 60cm
    Succulent40cm to 60cm
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate The plant is moderately adapted to arid conditions and can survive short periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Evergreen Plants that have leaves all year round.
  • Frost: Tender A plant that will not survive any frost or low winter temperatures.
  • Sand tolerant Plants adapted to survive in nutrient poor, very sandy soils.
  • Water Moderate These plants will need some extra watering compared to water-wise plants. Plant them together, in at least some shade and in a convenient proximity to the house so that grey water can be utilised during times of drought.
  • Wind Tolerant Plants able to withstand the effect of strong winds.
Specific Information

Leucospermum cordifolium is a rounded shrub with a single main stem and drooping, horizontal branches. The shrub can spread to 2 meters in diameter and up to 1,5 meters tall. Leaves are stiff and quite thick and are variable in shape, ranging from roundish to oblong, with up to 6 teeth at the end of the young leaves while older leaves may have only one. Young leaves are covered with soft hairs but mature leaves are smooth. Each flower head produces just a few hard, nut-like seeds. Pincushions have a relatively short life span of around 10 - 15 years. Plants tend to become leggy after a few years, especially if not pruned. The flowers attract insects and nectar- and insect-eating birds. 

Leucospermum cordifolium is categorised in the Red List of South African Plants as Near Threatened as a result of habitat loss due to alien plant invasion and agriculture as well as uncontrolled picking of flowers.

This is the most popular horticultural Pincushion from which many colourful cultivars have been developed.

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the flower heads are made up of many tiny flowers each with a stiff protruding style, with up to three heads held at the end of a stout  stem

  • Winter to Summer Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • red
  • orange
  • yellow
Growth Rate
Plant Uses
  • Accent or Focal Point A plant used to attract the attention because of its colour or form.
  • Attracts bees, butterflies or other insects This plant attracts insects which can be food for birds or other creatures in your garden.
  • Attracts Birds This plant will attract birds.
  • Border A strip of ground, at the edge of a driveway or path in which ornamental plants or shrubs are planted.
  • Cut Flowers Plants that provide flowers suitable for ornamental uses.
  • Filler Either a fast growing tree or shrub used temporarily to fill in an area while the permanent plants grow to a desired size, or a plant used to fill gaps in borders or beds.
  • Suitable for coastal gardens Plants adapted to dry, sandy soil, forceful wind, limited rainfall and intense sunlight.
  • Suitable for smaller gardens Such plants do not have invasive root systems, remain small or controllable and can often be grown in containers.
Distribution and Habitat

in a small area at the southern tip of the Western Cape, from Kogelberg to Soetanysberg, in sandstone, acid, nutrient poor soils

Planting Suggestions

As with most members of the Proteacea family, Leucospermum cordifolium needs well-drained, nutrient poor soil in an airy position. In general, Proteacea do not grow well in clay soils and will die if their roots are kept wet. If possible plant on a slope or on slightly elevated mound to improve drainage. Dig a hole twice the width of the container and one and a half times the height. Do not apply artificial fertilizer or fresh manure to the soil mix. Mulch well around the plant but keep the area around the trunk of the plant clear, as the stem area of the plant must be able to dry off. Proteacea have a dense network of fine roots just below the surface of the soil and no cultivation should take place below them as disturbance will damage the roots and possibly introduce fungal disease, resulting in the death of the plant. The use of a thick mulch of leaf litter and pine bark/needles will feed the plant, keep the soil cool and discourage weeds. In summer rainfall areas water regularly during winter and occasionally in summer if the weather is very dry. Always water in the early morning, preferably before the sun has fully risen. Stems bearing old flower heads should be cut back to encourage the development of new shoots.

Leucospermum cordifolium can be propagated from seed or cuttings. For detailed information go to: http://www.plantzafrica.com/frames/plantsfram.htm

Lorraine's Garden Notes
Medicinal Uses

No data found.

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