Botanical name

Protea cordata

Family

Proteaceae

Common Name

Heart-leaved Protea
Protea cordata
Protea cordata
Protea cordata
Protea cordata
Protea cordata
Protea cordata

Description

The foliage and growth habit of this low-growing protea shrublet is unique. From a small woody base at ground level grow several erect, unbranched stems, which are hairless, red-flushed and up to 50cm long; brown, lance-shaped scale-like leaves occur at the base of the stem; grey-green heart-shaped leaves are arranged in a zig-zag formation along the stems, becoming smaller towards tip; young new leaves often flushed red; brown, papery bracts form a cup shape, 4-5cm across, which surrounds the cream-coloured flowers with red tips; flowers are clustered at the base of the stems. Recent studies have shown that  this species is mostly pollinated by the Cape Spiny Mouse, the Pygmy Mouse and the Rock Mouse. The mice are mostly nocturnal and are attracted to the flowerhead by its yeasty odour.

This species is part of a group of rodent pollinated Proteas. This group is characterized by flowerheads which are borne in the axils of the leaves, unlike the terminal flowerheads of all other Proteas. The flowerheads are produced at ground level at the bases of branches and stems, and are thus hidden by foliage; the involucral bracts (bracts surrounding the flowers) are covered by dark brown or purple hairs which make the flowers inconspicuous; together with the shallow, bowl-shaped flowerheads and their yeasty odour, these are all adaptations for pollination by rodents.

 

 

Habitat

Lower mountain slopes

Flower Date

June to August