Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Leucospermum conocarpodendron (Tree pincushion

The beautiful grey leafed Leucospermum conocarpodendron or Tree pincushion as it is commonly known, is a small compact tree that is confined to the south Western Cape where it grows on coastal dunes and mountain slopes. The bent, gnarled trunk and twisted, interlocking branches gave rise to the Afrikaans name “Kreupelhout”. This superb small tree gives a spectacular show when it covers itself with a profusion of magnificent golden yellow flowers. Although well represented in the Table Mountain National Park, this subspecies is classified as Vulnerable on the Interim Red Data List as more and more of it’s habitat is lost to urbanization.

Botanical Name
Leucospermum conocarpodendron
Common Name
Tree pincushion
RSA National Tree No’
 The showy Tree pincushion must be one of our loveliest small, evergreen, flowering  trees. When planted as a specimen in a landscape, the gnarled and bent trunk adds immediate interest while the contrast of the beautiful grey foliage and superb golden flowers are an absolute show-stopper. Whether planted as a lovely contrasting background in a border or rockery or grouped along a fence to form a hardy windbreak, the effect will always be stunning. As gardens become smaller and the demand for smaller, low maintenance trees increases, Leucospermum conocarpodendron is the perfect choice.
Height 4 – 5 m
3 – 6 m
Growth Habit
Endemic to the Cape Peninsula, the Tree pincushion grows on dunes at sea level as well as on well drained north and west facing rocky slopes up to 160m
The greyish bark is 30mm – 50mm thick
The ovate, stalkless leaves are silver grey and densely covered with very fine hairs. The apex is rounded with 3 – 10 reddish glandular teeth and a tapering base
The spectacular, globose, golden yellow flowers are about 70mm – 90mm in diameter, appearing in groups of up to 3 from August to December. The styles are up to 55mm long
The fruit consists of a brownish nut and is released about 2 months after the tree starts flowering
The seed is a hard nut
Growing regions
Leucospermum conocarpodendron occurs naturally in a very limited area from the eastern slopes of Devil’s Peak, along the western and northern slopes of Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles and through to Llandudno
Growing conditions
The Tree pincushion prefers a sunny position and acidic, well drained soil. Do not add fertilizer or manure. Provide a thick mulch of well rotted compost in spring and autumn.
Best season
This species is hardy being able to withstand strong winds as well as very cold and wet or hot and dry conditions
The fastest method of propagation is by semi hardwood cuttings taken in Autumn. These should be dipped in a rooting hormone and planted in a coarse growth medium. Cuttings should be kept warm and misted. Although much slower, propagation by seed is easy and highly successful
Growth rate
Fairly slow
Since 1652, the wood of the Tree pincushion was used for fire wood in the Cape colony while the bark was used for tanning leather. A preparation made from the bark was used for bleeding and dysentery and the wood was used for manufacturing wagon parts.

Dovyalis caffra flowersDovyalis caffra fruitDovyalis caffra leaves and thorns

                 L. conocarpodendron Buds                        L. conocarpodendron Flowers                       L. conocarpodendron Bark

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