Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

Blog: Peculiar Pollinators

Published: 04 April 2017
By:Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

The yellow trailing pincushion (Leucaspermun prostatum) is part of the greater genus, Leucaspermun that includes about 50 species of flowering plants in the protea family. Most of these species are native to the Western Cape, with only two occurring outside South Africa in Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

The plants are typically evergreen shrubs, and most often groundcovers. They resprout from an underground rootstock following fire and can form a large mat up to 4m wide.

The pincushion protea flowers at ground level and have sweet smelling flowers that attract mice. The flowers of the protea family are an inflorescence, meaning there are many individual flowers grouped together to form one big flowering head.

Sweet Nectar

The inflorescence has a sweet yeasty scent that becomes stronger at night, and this attracts visitors. In order to prevent birds and insects from stealing the nectar, rodent-pollinated proteas have modified leaves that keep birds and insects out. Mice will come and look for nectar inside the inflorescence, burrowing their whole heads deep inside the flower. This causes pollen to get stuck in the whiskers of the mouse, who then travels from flowering head to flowering head distributing pollen.
The yellow trailing pincushions are perennials that flower between July and December.

Read more on Grootbos Flora here.

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