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Leucadendron spp. (loo-ka-DEN-dron)


These flowers grow as showy trees and shrubs. There are many naturally occurring varieties of Leucadendrons, and all have interesting characteristics. Some are stark and dramatic, and others are slender-stemmed and bushy. Leucadendrons’ “flowers” are actually stiff, colorful bracts that surround conelike flowers.

Leucadendrons are available in hues of red, burgundy, green and yellow. Some are bicolored.

Leucadendrons will last for up to three weeks, depending on variety and care.

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

REFRIGERATION Keep Leucadendrons in coolers at 33 F to 35 F with good air circulation and high humidity to help them last longer and prevent leaf blackening.
ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY These flowers are not believed to be sensitive to ethylene gas.
LIGHT Keep the lights on in floral coolers when storing Leucadendrons. The flowers should be displayed where there is plenty of light.

LEAF BLACKENING This is a common postharvest problem with Leucadendrons. Prevent it with proper refrigeration, correct use of flower food and adequate light.

Purchase bunches that appear fresh and crisp. 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 thimble to the size of a golf ball. Avoid new growth because these stems wilt easily.

FAMILY Leucadendrons are members of the Proteaceae family. Relatives include Banksias, Grevilleas (silk oak) and Proteas.
MEANING The name comes from the Greek words “leukos” for “white” and “dendron” for “tree,” referring to the silvery-colored foliage on some species. The Proteaceae family was named for Proteus, the Greek sea god who had the ability to assume many forms.
ORIGINS Leucadendrons originate from South Africa, along the south and southwestern coastal mountain ranges.
HISTORY The Proteaceae family of plants was first grown in the United States in California about 40 years ago. Later, Hawaiian growers began producing Proteaceae as well. The environmental conditions in these locations are similar to those of their natural habitats.
DEEP ROOTS The Proteaceae family is ancient and is perhaps one of the oldest known groups of flowering plants. Scientific studies of plant life show they were present 300 million years ago. The first illustrations of Proteaceae appeared in the early 1600s.

Some information provided by:
Hawaii Tropical Flower Council,
California Protea Management,
The International Protea Association,
The Chain of Life NetworkÆ,
Society of American Florists’ (SAF) 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.

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