Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Plant profile: Leucadendron

Leucadendron "Jester"
Latin name: Leucadendron ("luke-ah-DEN-dron")
Common name: Cone-bush
Originally from: South Africa
Blooms: Early spring is the time to see these guys show off their cream/yellow/orange/red flowers.
Light: Full sun
Water: Rain is plenty. No summer water needed.
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 3'-9' tall and wide - some are up to moderate sized trees.
USDA Zones: 8-11
Where to find in P. Garden: One in almost every bed!

Leucadendron salignum
"Golden Tip"
Leucadendrons are in the protea family, and are a great choice for a full sun, low water spot. They can manage in poor soil, appreciate some compost, but are easily killed by phosphorus-based fertilizers.

Their flowers are great cut and dried too, and are produced in dense inflorescences surrounded by colorful bracts, with separate male and female plants.

The seed heads of Leucadendron are woody and cone-like - hence the common name cone-bush. About half the species store the seeds in fire-proof cones and release them only after a fire has killed the plant or at least the branch holding  the cone, so many of these species never seed "in captivity."

Here are the species and cultivars we currently grow:

Leucadendron salignum "Red Tulip" Up in the brights bed this one's growing in a bit of shade - I might need to move it to a sunnier spot. 4-5 feet high and wide, with deep red bracts surrounding the cones on the branch tips.

Leucadendron salignum "Golden Tip" - Sitting at the top of the steps, this cultivar has cream and lemon yellow bracts and grows 3-4 feet high and wide.

"Safari Goldstrike"
Leucadendron "Safari Goldstrike" - A specimen of this hybrid sits in the middle back bed. A hybrid between Leucadendron strobolinum x Leucadendron laureolum developed in New Zealand, it'll grow to about 6' high and wide and has yellow bracts.

Leucadendron "Jester" - This variegated stunner sits in the middle front bed, and sports showy variegated leaves in shades of red, cream and yellow. It'll grow to about 4' high and wide.

Leucadendron argenteum
Leucadendron argenteum - An endangered species endemic to a small area called Table Mountain on the Cape Peninsula, around the city of Cape Town, South Africa, this silvery, silky-leaved plant grows eventually into a 15-20' tall tree.

Common names for this plant are Silver tree, Silver leaf tree, Witteboom, or Silwerboom.

UPDATE: No thanks to the drought we lost a few of these, sadly:  L. argenteum,
"Safari Goldstrike" and "Red Tulip" all bit it.

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