2 Rare Proteas

In 1996 the Atlas Project visited our valley to map our Proteas. We were excited at their discovery of two rare Proteas; Piketberg Spiderhead and Piketberg Pincushion. Below are verbatim notes from three sources with appeals for new information and photographs. The pincushion is difficult to spot as it is a ground creeper, but this year would be a good time to spot it as it is more visible after a fire.

So now, Banghoekians here is the challenge; we need to find more photos and map then on the special app that Sanbi has supplied on the INaturalist programme for Banghoek. Simply photograph on the app and upload.

Tony Robelo of Sanbi is convinced that there are more rare plants on Banghoek – so cameras ready on your walkabouts…


Image ref INaturalist

Piketberg Spiderhead
(Notes from The Atlas Project 1996)

Serruria ‘piketbergensis’.  This is an undescribed species of Spiderhead.  Its known distribution is the Piketberg and Olifantsrivierberg Mountains, but it may be more common.  It is one of the Sandveld Pincushions (Sandveld Spinnekopbosse) and can be recognized by its flowerheads having smaller headlets and the flowers which are kinked.  The Piketberg Spiderhead is the only local Spiderhead which resprouts and has brownish floral bracts.  Being a resprouter it survives fires as an adult – in fact, it thrives under very frequent fires which eliminate the bigger proteas which shade it.  We have very little data for this species – it seems to occur between 500 and 1200 m on deep sandy soils.  It generally grows to only 200mm tall.

We would like a good photograph of the Piketberg Spiderhead!


Image ref Rian van der Walt

Piketberg Pincushion
(Notes from The Atlas Project 1996)

Piketberg Pincushion (no common name) Leucospermum profugum

The Piketberg Pincushion is a poorly known species.  This may perhaps be due to its habit of creeping along the ground and so not being easily seen.  Atlassers have greatly expanded its known distribution from Aasvoelberg, by discovering populations at Engelsman se Baken and Banghoek.  Do you know of any places where this species occurs?  We desperately need more data for this species – from our very few records it appears to flower in summer and grow in spring.  It is only known from sandstone outcrops at 600 – 800m.  Being a pincushion the seeds will be taken underground by ants where they are safe from fire and any rats and mice.  Although adults are killed by fire, the seeds will only germinate after a fire.  It is probably pollinated by birds, but perhaps mice may also visit the flowers.  We know almost nothing about this stunning species.  This is a very rare species, known only from about 500 plants on Piketberg.  Some 30% of locations have low levels of Pine infestation.  If you know of any plants, please inform us.  A nature reserve should perhaps be established to help preserve this species.


Image ref Colin Paterson-Jones

Notes from Biodiversity Explorer 2021
Leucospermum profugum (Piketberg pincushion)

Life > Eukaryotes > ArchaeoplastidaChloroplastidaCharophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Order: Proteales > Family: Proteaceae > Genus: Leucospermum

Notes from Wikipedia 2021
Leucospermum profugum is an evergreen shrub of up to 8 m (25 ft) in diameter, with at base leafless main branches, that trail over the surrounding vegetation and rock, from the family Proteaceae.  It has hairless and leathery inverted lance-shaped to oblong leaves tipped with mostly three or four teeth and flattened egg-shaped flowerheads of 9–12 cm (3.6–4.8 in) in diameter, that consist of initially yellowish orange flowers that later changing to salmon pink.  From the center of the flowers emerge almost straight styles that jointly give the impression of a pincushion.  It is called Piketberg pincushion in English. Flower heads can be found between late September and December. It is an endangered species, only known from three close locations in the Western Cape province of South Africa.[1][2]

Also see current photos here but please add to them if you can spot this Protea in Banghoek.

Banghoek Private Nature Reserve