Plate-seed Conebush

Scientific Name
Leucadendron platyspermum R.Br.
Higher Classification
Common Names
Kraaltolbos (a), Plate-seed Conebush (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable A2cd+4d
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Past population reduction is estimated based on habitat loss (31% decline in AOO). This is a popular species in the cut-flower industry and the assessment of its status is complicated by the great increase in the population size in the past 50 years due to planting in orchards and in bush-cut and burned fynbos. Both wild and planted stands are heavily exploited. Up to the 1980s only female cones were harvested from orchards which led to low canopy seed stores and post-fire population collapses. This also caused heavy pressure on wild populations where female cones were harvested to provide seeds for orchards. Currently only males are harvested so seed banks are large and extensive. If market preferences where to change, however, the population could decline rapidly, especially if planted individuals were to be replaced by other species. It would however be very difficult to estimate what proportion of the wild population could decline, as almost all wild and planted subpopulations are intensively managed for harvesting today. Another possible threat is the development of management practises of thinning out females to increase the production of male plants, as this would lead to a reduction of seed stores and post-fire population collapses would be highly likely. Market and orchard management trends should be carefully monitored.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
Villiersdorp to Agulhas coast.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
South Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, Overberg Sandstone Fynbos, Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos, Elim Ferricrete Fynbos
Due to extensive planting it is not clear what the original habitat of L. platyspermum was. Mature individuals are killed by fires, and only seeds survive. Wind-dispersed seeds are stored in fire-resistant inflorescences, and released after fires. It is dioecious, with insect-pollinated male and female flowers occuring on separate plants.
This species is used extensively in the cut flower industry, and population trends are closely linked to market preferences, which change unpredictably. In the 1980s, female cones were very popular, resulting in severe depletion of seed reserves and post-fire population crashes. Currently male cones are in fashion, and seed reserves have recovered, but there is the potential threat that female plants will be thinned out in favour of males, which again could lead to depletion of seed reserves. Both wild and cultivated plants are harvested. Wild populations are typically increased in their native habitats through seeding. Such practises introduce foreign genetic material into populations. Non-local species are often also planted near wild populations, which often cause hybridization and genetic contamination of wild populations. Other threats include alien invasive plants and too frequent fire.
Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Leucadendron platyspermum R.Br.VU A2cd+4dRaimondo et al. (2009)
Leucadendron platyspermum R.Br.Vulnerable Hilton-Taylor (1996)
Leucadendron platyspermum R.Br.Vulnerable Hall et al. (1980)

Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J.C. 2000. Cape Plants: A conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.

Hall, A.V., De Winter, M., De Winter, B. and Van Oosterhout, S.A.M. 1980. Threatened plants of southern Africa. South African National Scienctific Programmes Report 45. CSIR, Pretoria.

Hilton-Taylor, C. 1996. Red data list of southern African plants. Strelitzia 4. South African National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

Raimondo, D., von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. and Manyama, P.A. 2009. Red List of South African Plants. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Rebelo, A.G., Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2010. Leucadendron platyspermum R.Br. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2021/09/17

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Distribution map

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