Leucospermum cuneiforme

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Botanical Name
Leucospermum cuneiforme
Proteaceae - The Protea family
loo-koh-SPER-mum kew-nee-FORM-uh
Common Name(s)
English: Common Pincushion; Wart-stemmed Pincushion
Afrikaans: Gewone Luisiesbos; Luisiesbos
IsiXhosa: Isiqwane
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: High The plant is well adapted to arid conditions; it can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Evergreen Plants that have leaves all year round.
  • Frost: Hardy The plant can withstand freezing temperatures or frost without artificial protection.
  • Sand tolerant Plants adapted to survive in nutrient poor, very sandy soils.
  • Water Wise Plant species originating from low rainfall regions that require less water to survive and thrive than other plant species.
  • Wind Tolerant Plants able to withstand the effect of strong winds.
Specific Information

Leucospermum cuneiforme occurs in a wide range of habitats, vegetation types and climates in both winter and summer rainfall areas. It forms a stout medium sized shrub, although it has been known to reach up to 3m. A distinguishing and unique characteristic is that the branches at the base of the plant are covered with warts. The green leathery leaves are wedge-shaped with 3 to 10 teeth along the top edge of the leaf. The flower heads are oval and the colour varies, depending on the region in which it grows. The flowers themselves also change colour as they develop, starting with yellow and ageing to various shades of light orange. Leucospermum cuneiforme is extremely fire resistant, resprouting from the underground rootstock after a fire. 

In the wild the seeds are distributed by ants which carry the seeds to their nests and eat the fleshy outer coating without damaging the seed itself. The safely stored and buried seeds germinate after a fire.

Because of its wide habitat range, Leucospermum cuneiforme adapts easily to garden culture and is an excellent choice for gardens both in and out of its natural areas.

Ad Break

made up of many small flowers clustered on an oval-shaped head 50 - 90 mm wide, at the ends of branches

  • Spring to Summer Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • yellow
Growth Rate
  • Moderate to Fast Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
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.
  • Container Trees, shrubs and ornamental species that can adapt to growing in a restricted environment.
  • 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.
  • Rock Garden An area constructed of larger rocks, arranged naturally, to emphasise the use of stones as a main element. Generally plants used do not need a lot of care.
  • 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.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
Distribution and Habitat

from the Caledon district in the Western Cape to north of East London in the Eastern Cape, in fynbos, arid fynbos, on the fringes of the Little Karoo, in grassveld, subtropical coastal dune forest and in the margins of  evergreen forests

Planting Suggestions

Leucospermum cuneiforme needs a sunny position in well-drained sandy, acidic soil (although mine are growing in neutral to slightly alkaline soil), where there is free circulation of air. Prune regularly to shape.

As with most members of the Protea Family, Leucospermum cuneiforme is adapted to nutrient poor soils and has fine and sensitive roots that cannot cope with strong fertilisers or manure. Use organic, slow release fertilisers and mulch regularly with well-rotted compost, milled bark or pine needles. Leucospermum cuneiforme will tolerate summer drought, but will respond better if given a deep weekly or bi-weekly watering throughout the year. Do not dig or weed for a meter or more around the shrub or the roots will be disturbed and may become diseased - rather control weeds with a deep layer of mulch.

The specimen in the photos does not pay justice to this pincushion as it is completely water wise, has survived many years of drought and has not been pruned in 30 years, hence its rather sparse appearance.

Medicinal Uses

No data found.

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A big advantage of this plant is that it can be drastically pruned/cut back below "leaf level"!
Of course with most members of the protea family cutting a stem below leaf level causes the stem to die!

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