Pincushion - The Leucospermum Cordifolium

Although Leucospermum cordifolium is part of the Proteaceae family, it looks rather different to any other members of the family. It is called the pincushion due to its unique shape and structure, as well as the bobbejaanklou and the luisiesbos in Afrikaans.

Did you know? Leucospermum cordifolium is indigenous to South Africa, characterising large parts of the Cape Floristic Region and testifying to its diversity and beauty.

Leucospermum cordifolium is characterised by its clusters of flowers, which make up spectacularly bright inflorescences at the end of each stem. The inflorescences have a bulb shape to them, resembling pincushions, hence its alternative name. It is a relatively small evergreen shrub that grows to a height of between 50 centimetres and, in special cases, five metres. The leaves are arranged in a spiral and are serrated on the margin or at the apex.

Flowering time

The gorgeous blooms of the Leucospermum cordifolium make their appearance from mid-July to the end of November, typically.

Use in the garden

Leucospermum cordifolium bursts into vibrant colour during the end of winter and the beginning of spring, bestowing a breath-taking beauty to your garden during this time. The flower clusters are also extremely popular as cut flowers in vases and formal bouquets, adding a wonderfully rustic splash of colour. They depend on beetles and birds for their pollination, which means that these will make their regular appearance in your garden.

Natural distribution

Naturally, Leucospermum cordifolium is found in the Cape Floristic Region in the province of the Western Cape (and in parts of the neighbouring province of the Eastern Cape).

Although this is a fairly small area in proportion to the country as a whole, it is home to a significant percentage of the world’s flowering plants, making it of global importance in terms of biodiversity and ecology. The plants that make it up are, therefore, of prime importance to the local landscapes.

Growing Leucospermum cordifolium in your garden

Planting fresh seed towards the end of February, when it is still hot, works best. These seeds need to be prepared in hydrogen peroxide for the best results. They do well in full sun and have a lifespan of about eight years.


The seeds should be soaked in water to which a small amount (about 1%) of hydrogen peroxide has been added. This loosens the tough outer surface and allows oxygen to reach the seed. These should then be sown in soil that has a good drainage system, pushed down and then covered. Once the seeds germinate, which takes about four weeks, they can be picked out in batches.

Pinch off the root tip (if the full root comes along with the plant when pulled out) to encourage root growth. The Leucospermum cordifolium can also be grown successfully from cuttings of between six and 10 centimetres long, which should be planted in summer.

If you plan to travel to South Africa to visit our magnificent botanical gardens and to enjoy our diverse plant life and unspoiled wilderness, click here to start your search for accommodation in South Africa for your holiday. We wish you happy exploring and travelling.

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