Scientific Name
Leucospermum cordifolium (Salisb. ex Knight) Fourc.
Higher Classification
Leucospermum bolusii E.Phillips, Leucospermum mixtum E.Phillips, Leucospermum nutans R.Br.
Common Names
Pincushion (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Near Threatened B1b(ii,iii,v)+2b(ii,iii,v)
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Leucospermum cordifolium has a restricted distribution, and has an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 6338 km², and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 1176-1180 km². A population reduction of 11-14% has been observed as a result of extensive picking of planted and wild plants in the past 60 years (generation length 20 years). This is the most popular horticultural Pincushion. Many cultivars are available and are planted extensively in protea orchards adjacent to natural stands throughout its range. Contamination of natural gene pools is thus a major concern, as is habitat loss due to alien plant invasion and agriculture. With the population declining but with more than 10 locations extant it almost reaches the thresholds for listing as Vulnerable under criterion B and is assessed as Near Threatened.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
Leucospermum cordifolium has a restricted distribution in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, occurring from Kogelberg to Soetanysberg.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
South Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, Overberg Sandstone Fynbos, Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos, Greyton Shale Fynbos, Elgin Shale Fynbos, Elim Ferricrete Fynbos, Agulhas Sand Fynbos, Hangklip Sand Fynbos, Western Coastal Shale Band Vegetation
It is found in sandstone fynbos, 20-800 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.
At least 38% of this species' habitat has already been lost, mainly to pine plantations and protea orchards, and loss continues (3% habitat loss recorded in 1990-2014). Field observations indicate that some subpopulations are threatened by competition from spreading, unmanaged alien invasive plants (acacias, hakeas and pines). Too frequent fires are causing ongoing habitat degradation in many parts of this species' range, and as a reseeder, it is likely to decline and disappear in areas that are repeatedly burnt before plants reach reproductive maturity. This species is used extensively in the cut flower industry, and both wild and cultivated plants are harvested. Although it is present in many nature reserves, its proximity to gardens and planted orchards, and even specimen gardens within nature reserves, poses a potential threat to gene pools. Other threats include unexplained population decline, drought related mortalities and alien invasive ants.

The population consists of many subpopulations that occur as scattered plants or in dense clumps. It is difficult to assess this species based on the many plantations that have been planted and the practise of sowings of seeds into in wild vegetation. At lease 11-14% of population has be reduced over the past three generations (generation length 15-30 years). Given its commercial importance, gene reserves of the many distinct natural forms should be designated for conservation. Unfortunately, no data on subspecific variation or distribution of the various forms exists.

Population trend
Present in many nature reserves, but proximity to gardens and planted orchards, and even specimen gardens within nature reserves, poses a potential threat to gene pools. Extensively conserved subpopulations of over 1000 plants occur in Houwhoek, Fernkloof, Salmonsdam, and Heuningberg nature reserves, and Brandfontein-Rietfontein Private Nature Reserve.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Leucospermum cordifolium (Salisb. ex Knight) Fourc.NT A2c+4dRaimondo et al. (2009)
Leucospermum bolusii E.PhillipsRare 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.

Manning, J.C. and Goldblatt, P. 2012. Plants of the Greater Cape Floristic Region 1: The Core Cape Flora. Strelitzia 29. South African National Biodiversity 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, T. 2001. Sasol Proteas: A field guide to the proteas of southern Africa. (2nd ed.). Fernwood Press, Vlaeberg, Cape Town.

Rebelo, A.G., Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2020. Leucospermum cordifolium (Salisb. ex Knight) Fourc. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/06/22

Comment on this assessment Comment on this assessment
Distribution map

© D. van der Colff

© Outramps

Search for images of Leucospermum cordifolium on iNaturalist