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Cut Flower

Leucospermum spp. (loo-ko-SPUR-mum)

Pincushion, Pincushion flower

These exotic blossoms have the distinctive appearance of a pincushion filled with pins. Their spherical-shaped flower heads and unusual color combinations add extreme texture to floral designs.

Pincushion flowers will last for up to three weeks, depending on the species and the care and handling procedures followed. Pincushions will dry without shedding leaves or petals. They can be used in dried flower arrangements, which can last for several years.

Several species of Leucospermums are available from world markets. Some popular varieties include:
• ‘Tiara’ (L. patersonii), available October through November, rich golden color
• ‘Goldie’ (L. cunieforme) (Wart-stemmed pincushion), available November through January, bright lemon-yellow color
• ‘California Gold’ or ‘Hawaii Gold’ (L. conocarpodendron) available November through January, golden-yellow color with tints of pink
• L. cordifolium (Nodding pincushion), available November through January, colors include red, orange and yellow
• ‘Red Rocket’ (L. reflexum) (Rocket pincushion), available October through November, earth-tone red

Some varieties are available year-round from world markets, but supplies will vary. Order in advance from growers or wholesalers to ensure availability.

REFRIGERATION Leucospermums are not tropical flowers as many believe. Keep them in floral coolers at 33 F to 35 F. Provide good air circulation, high humidity and plenty of light (keep the cooler lights on) and flower food to keep these flowers looking good and to prevent the leaves from turning black.
ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Pincushions have a low sensitivity to ethylene gas.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR Purchase flowers that have at least three rows of tubular florets (styles) open. If flowers are too tight, they may not open completely. Watch for blackened foliage or petals and for any sign of fungus inside the sphere-shaped heads, which will range from the size of a golf ball to a tennis ball.

MEANING The name “Leucospermum” comes from the Greek words “leukos” for “white” and “sperma” for “seed.”
FAMILY Leucospermums are members of the Proteaceae family. Relatives include Proteas, Leucadendrons and Banksias. The Proteaceae family is an ancient one, perhaps one of the oldest known groups of flowering plants. Scientific studies of plant life show that Proteas were present 300 million years ago. The first illustrations of Proteas appeared in the early 1600s.
ORIGINS Leucospermums originate from South Africa along the southern and southwestern coastal mountain ranges. Today, they are commercially grown in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Portugal and the United States (Hawaii and California).

Some information provided by:
The Hawaii Tropical Flower Council,
California Protea Management,
The International Protea Association,
The Chain of Life NetworkÆ,
SAF’s Flower & Plant Care manual

You may reach “Cut Flower of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at or by phone at (415) 239-3140.

Images courtesy of The California Cut Flower Commission

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