|Green tree pincushion (Eng), kreupelhout, luisies (Afr.)
Leucospermum conocarpodendron subsp. viridum
Green tree pincushion (Eng), kreupelhout, luisies (Afr.)
The green tree pincushion is
absolutely spectacular when covered in masses of bright yellow flowers on the
slopes of our mountains and in the village.
The tree can grow up to 5 m and 6
m across, but hardly does in the Rooiels Corridor due to too frequent veld
fires. The thick trunk has corky bark, which make the larger trees fire
The flowerheads are very showy up to 10cm in diameter, the butter-yellow flowers large up to 5cm long and the styles up to 5.5cm long.
The leaves are deep green and smooth, sometimes with a slightly hairy fringe on the edge.
POLLINATORS & SEED CARRIERS
The main pollinators are the Cape Sugarbirds. Some bees and wasps also zoom in for some nectar and pollination – adding food on the menu for various birds.
The hard nut-like seeds are covered in an elaiosome – a nutritious, fleshy film.
Ants carry the seeds to their nests, where the young ants feed on the elaiosome. The seeds safely planted, now wait for a trigger from nature to germinate. That trigger would be a fynbos fire, ash and rain.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Leucospermum is derived from the Greek words leukos meaning white, and sperma meaning seed.
Conocarpodendron means 'the tree bearing cone-shaped fruits'. Viridum refers to the green colour of the leaves.
“Kreupelhout” was already in use by 1680 and refers to the bent (crippled) branches.
When looking at a close-up of the flowers, one can understand why they are sometimes called “luisies”.
The tree trunks were used extensively for fire wood in the old days and some of the wood was used to make the felloes of ox-wagons. The bark was used for tanning leather.
This species occurs from the Cape Peninsula to Stanford, although most of its habitat has been destroyed due to urbanization and alien vegetation.
It grows mainly in the lowlands on well drained, sandstone-derived soils, often in fairly dense stands. See the slopes above the R34.
Another species with grey leaves L. conocarpodendron subsp. conocarpodendron grows on the northwestern side of the Cape Peninsula.
Near threatened (NT) due to agricultural and urban expansion, forestation and alien plant invasion. All the chopping out for fire wood right into the 20th century didn’t help either.