Leucadendron grandiflorum (Salisb.) R.Br.

Wynberg Conebush, Large-flower Euryspermum, Extinct Conebush


Family: Proteaceae

Genus: Leucadendron

Description: 

The Wynberg Conebush is extinct... It is only known from a drawing of an abnormally lanky plant grown in Europe. (ProteaWorldOnline)

This is the handsomest species of the genus yet discovered, and one of those confounded in our gardens under the name of Protea Decora; but though male and female plants of all these are in Mr. Hibbert's collection, where the drawing was made, I have not time now to study them.

In the whole genus, the males are far more prolific and shewy than the females, as in the generality of animals; so we have here another striking analogy between the two kingdoms.

Stem of our plant 5 feet high, round, pubescent towards the top: Branches robust, not so much subdivided as in the others. Leaves pale green, the larger ones 6 or 7 lines broad and two inches long, almost sessile, scarcely twisted, spatulate-lanced, very entire, obtuse the point itself consisting of a broad smooth callosity, while young very downy on both surfaces, near the flowers often 2 inches and a 1/2 long and suddenly changed to a yellow colour, with the callosity of a reddish brown. Flowers diffusing a strong and disagreeable smell. Fascicle or head of flowers from 1 inch and a 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, hemispherical. Bractes which belong exclusively to the head imbricated below the flowers and gradually increasing in size till they are 5 lines long by 3 broad, recurved at the top, ovate-wedged; between the flowers suddenly narrower till they are scarcely 1/2 a line in breadth but not shorter, incurved, linear-spatulate; all of them obtusely mucronated, and shining with the gum which exsudes from both surfaces... (Parad. Lond. - Euryspermum grandiflorum)

History: 

Published in Trans. Linn. Soc. London 10: 59 in 1810.

Basionym Euryspermum grandiflorum Salisb. (African Plant Database)

Published in Bot. Mag. 40: 1650 in 1814. The specimen figured in the Paradisus Londinensis had a much larger flower than the one here represented, which we believe to have been a female plant, but neglected examining it in its recent state. Mr. Salisbury remarks, that the males exceed the females in size.

Native of the Cape of Good Hope. Requires the protection of a greenhouse. Introduced about 1809. Communicated by the Right Hon. Lord Stanley.

Extinct: Last seen in 1806. No records exist of its ecology, habitat, extent or time of demise, other than that it used to occur on Wynberg Hill's granitic soils. The cause of extinction is most likely to be vineyard expansion. RedList.SANBI.org

A few persons have claimed that it might not be a good species based on a single plant, but Salisbury's description leaves no doubt that at least the male was quite distinct from the other Crown Conebushes. That coupled with the distribution make it highly likely that this was quite a distinct species. (ProteaWorldOnline)

Also listed in Prodromus (A. P. de Candolle) 14: 219 in 1856. Additional synonyms listed are Protea ciliata Desf. and P. decora hort.

Relatives: 


Sources of Information

© 2010-12 Lisa J. Miner