13 December 2011

Sunshine flowers

Aren't these just yum? It's a hybrid of Leucadendron called 'Summer Sun'. I had ordered a wide variety of fynbos for a farm landscape outside Caledon (Western Cape), and of all the plants standing in my driveway, this one was my favourite.

The pompons which look like flowers are in fact cones - male cones to be exact. The genus Leucadendron (collectively known as Conebushes or tolbos in Afrikaans) is dioecious - in other words male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. The flowers are clustered together in 'cones' and are pollinated either by wind or insects, depending on the species. The pale coloured 'petals' are in fact involucral bracts. That's the science - and then there is the beauty...

Summer Sun is a hybrid between Leucadendron laureolum and a Peninsula endemic, L.strobilinum. They are adapted to winter rainfall and nutrient poor soils. If you live in SA and just have to have Summer Sun in your garden, you can get plants from Arnelia. Remember they require well-drained acidic soil. You can compost / mulch the plants, but no phosphorous, and remember it's best to plant in autumn or winter.

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