Leucospermum saxosum

S. Moore
Family name: Proteaceae
Common names: Escarpment Pincushion


This pincushion is the only one in South Africa not growing in the winter rainfall area of the Western Cape. This is a summer rainfall species to be found on the northern section of Drakensberg mountains from Pilgrim's Rest to Tzaneen. It also occurs outside South Africa on the Chimanimani mountain range.

It is a multi-stemmed shrub that can grow up to 2m in height under idea conditions with a woody underground rootstock. The leaves are simple, elliptic to almost linear with teeth on the red-edged apex (leaf tip). The flowers (perianth) are yellowish-orange. Leucospermum saxosum has some flowers almost the whole year round, but the main flowering time is September- December. This plant is listed as rare in South Africa.

It occurs on quartzite soils on rocky mountain slopes at high altitudes. These beautiful plants do very well in the Pretoria National Botanical Garden with its sandy soils. These plants are only watered during summer and can tolerate a reasonable amount of frost.

Derivation of name and historical aspects
This plant was described by S Moore and was found for the first time on the Chimanimani Mountains. The word "saxosum" means on rocky ground. The common name refers to the flower head with its protruding styles that resembles a pincushion with the orange pollen presenters. There are 51 species of Leucospermum, the most well known being L. cordifolium, the ordinary orange pincushion that has been on the market for many years and has become a popular garden plant.

Most leucospermums are insect pollinated. Leucospermum saxosum has adapted to the high rainfall and mist of the mountain tops.

Flowering shrub

Growing Leucospermum saxosum

This plant forms a lovely bush and can be used as a focal point or as part of a planting within a bed. Please remember it can spread up to 1,5m in width. As with all plants of the Proteaceae family; do not disturb the roots, as these plants are susceptible to fungal infections. This plant can be cultivated from seed that is released about 1-2 months after flowering or propagated from cuttings made in spring. Cuttings must be planted in well-drained soil and made from the harder wood.

1. GERMISHUIZEN, G. 1997. Wild flowers of Northern South Africa. Fernwood Press, Vlaeberg, SA
2. REBELO, T. 1995. Sasol Proteas A field guide to the Proteas of Southern Africa. Fernwood Press, Vlaeberg, SA
3. VOGTS, M. 1982. Suid-Afrika se Proteaceae, Ken hulle en kweek hulle. Struik, Kaapstad.
4. MOORE, S. 1911 - 1912. J Linn. Soc.Bot. Vol XL. 40:185. Longman, Grenal & CO. London

Karin Behr
Pretoria National Botanical Garden
January 2003

To find out if SANBI has seed of this or other SA species, please email our seedroom.
This page forms part of the South African National Biodiversity Institute's plant information website www.plantzafrica.com.