Dagger Leaf Protea blooming

We know that with an abundance of rain come the Spring flowers which are always wonderful to see, but as the streams dry and the days become hotter there is another flower we look for, the Dagger-leaf Sugarbush (Protea mucronifolia). It is a Critically Endangered Redlist plant species, found only from Hermon to Saron in the Western Cape. It is one of the smaller types of Protea, with dainty creamy-white flowers marked with pink. The name mucronifolia means sharp-pointed leaves (Latin), and in Afrikaans it is called the kasteelskloofsuikerbos.

The bracts (modified leaves on the outside of the flower) are sometimes lightly tinted with pink; they are also pinkish on the edges. There are about four or five rows of these bracts. Shortly after it opens it has an attractive cup shape, but the bracts continue to open more widely into an almost horizontal position. This exposes the inner, vital parts of the flower, the anthers and pollen presenters, that are bunched in the centre. When the flowerhead dries out, the involucral bracts tend to close again, protecting the developing seeds. Several insects and birds serve as pollinators. The seedheads retain the seeds for a long time, only releasing them after a fire.

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