Arid Pincushion

Scientific Name
Leucospermum calligerum (Salisb. ex Knight) Rourke
Higher Classification
Leucadendrum gnaphaliifolium Salisb. ex Knight, Leucadendrum xeranthemifolium Salisb. ex Knight, Leucospermum puberum (L.) R.Br.
Common Names
Arid Pincushion (e), Luisies (a), Rooiluisie (a), Speldekussing (a)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Leucospermum calligerum is widespread, abundant, and not in danger of extinction.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Northern Cape, Western Cape
Leucospermum calligerum is widespread across the western Cape Floristic Region, where it occurs from the Bokkeveld Escarpment near Nieuwoudtville southwards across the Cederberg and Koue Bokkeveld to the Riviersonderend Mountains and Caledon Swartberg in the Western Cape. It is widespread along the Langeberg Mountain Range, and isolated subpopulations occur in the Bredasdorp Mountains and on the Potberg at the eastern end of the Agulhas Plain.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Elim Ferricrete Fynbos, Breede Alluvium Fynbos, Matjiesfontein Quartzite Fynbos, Swartruggens Quartzite Fynbos, Greyton Shale Fynbos, Breede Shale Fynbos, Bokkeveld Sandstone Fynbos, Potberg Ferricrete Fynbos, Hawequas Sandstone Fynbos, Albertinia Sand Fynbos, Breede Sand Fynbos, Atlantis Sand Fynbos, Leipoldtville Sand Fynbos, Swellendam Silcrete Fynbos, Swartland Alluvium Fynbos, Boland Granite Fynbos, Graafwater Sandstone Fynbos, South Hex Sandstone Fynbos, North Hex Sandstone Fynbos, Piketberg Sandstone Fynbos, Winterhoek Sandstone Fynbos, Cederberg Sandstone Fynbos, Breede Quartzite Fynbos, Olifants Sandstone Fynbos, Swartland Granite Renosterveld, Potberg Sandstone Fynbos, South Langeberg Sandstone Fynbos, North Langeberg Sandstone Fynbos, South Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, North Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, Overberg Sandstone Fynbos, Nardouw Sandstone Fynbos
It prefers hot, dry lower slopes in sandstone fynbos, but also occurs sporadically on lowland sandy and alluvial flats, 50-1500 m. Mature individuals are killed by fires, and only seeds survive. Seeds are released after ripening, and dispersed by ants to their underground nests, where they are protected from predation and fire. It is pollinated by birds.
This species has lost 25% of its habitat, but habitat loss is largely confined to lowland sandy and alluvial flats, which have been converted to vineyards in the Breede River Valley around Worcester, and fruit orchards in the Koue Bokkeveld. It has also declined due to habitat loss to cereal cultivation in the Swartland, and rooibos tea cultivation on the Bokkeveld Escarpment. Remaining lowland subpopulations occur on isolated remnants, where they are threatened by competition from alien invasive plants, inappropriate fire management, and overgrazing. However, more than 90% of the remaining population of this species occurs in montane areas where there is no ongoing habitat loss, and no significant threats. Climate change models predicted that it could decline by 30% by 2025 (Bomhard et al. 2005), but no such drastic population reductions have yet been observed. .

This species is usually social, occurring in extensive stands, but occasionally as isolated clumps (Rebelo 2001). It is known from more than 900 subpopulations. It has declined in the past on the lowlands, but this represents less than 10% of the population of this species. Very slow, sporadic ongoing decline is likely, but is unlikely to exceed 10% in three generations.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Leucospermum calligerum (Salisb. ex Knight) RourkeLeast Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)

Bomhard, B., Richardson, D.M., Donaldson, J.S., Hughes, G.O., Midgley, G.F., Raimondo, D.C., Rebelo, A.G., Rouget, M. and Thuiller, W. 2005. Potential impacts of future land use and climate change on the Red List status of the Proteaceae in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. Global Change Biology 11(9):1452-1468.

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.

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, T. 2001. Sasol Proteas: A field guide to the proteas of southern Africa. (2nd ed.). Fernwood Press, Vlaeberg, Cape Town.

Vlok, J. and Schutte-Vlok, A.L. 2010. Plants of the Klein Karoo. Umdaus Press, Hatfield.

Rebelo, A.G., Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2019. Leucospermum calligerum (Salisb. ex Knight) Rourke. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2022/01/23

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Distribution map

© J.H. Vlok/A.L. Schutte-Vlok

© Outramps

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