Scientific name: Leucadendron tinctum
Plant type: Perennial shrub
Bloom: Red cone like flowerhead (female), Yellow cone like flowerhead (male)
Environment: Full sun in well-drained soil
Uses: Specimen plant
South Africa – 42B
Leucadendron tinctum I. Williams is a small shrub native to the Western Cape Province of South Africa. L. tinctum is commonly known as spicy conebush. The common name is derived from the spicy scent of the central cone of flowers. L. tinctum was first described in the 1960s by the South African Botanist Ion Williams, as it was previously considered Leucadendron grandiflorum. Williams was a noted conservationist in South Africa and wrote a revision of the genus Leucadendron in the 1960s and 70s.
Leucadendron tinctum is endemic to the Western Cape Province of South Africa, where it grows in the mountains at elevations of 40-1,700m. L. tinctum is abundant in this region and the overall population is considered to be of Least Concern, in terms of its conservation status.
L. tinctum grows in a fire prone region and regional subpopulations are often threatened by these fires, however they do not pose a serious threat to the overall population. Mature individuals do not survive these fires; however, the seeds survive. When the seeds are dropped from the plant, they are stored underground by rodents, which protects them from the effects of the fires. Eventually these seeds will germinate and repopulate in the burned areas.
Leucadendron tinctum is dioecious, meaning that there are separate male and female plants. The female plant produces a red/maroon cone of flowers, whereas the male plant produces a yellow flower head. Both plants will produce colorful bracts (modified leaved at the base of a flower or inflorescence) while flowering. Additionally, the lower leaves will be tinged red at the tip. The specific epithet tinctum is derived from the Latin tinctorius, meaning dyed or colored, in reference to the bracts. Both the male and female plants will only grow to about 4 ft tall and do well in well-drained soil in full sun.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS: Text and Profile by Victoria Stewart. Photos by Victoria Stewart and Brendan Lange.