The leucospermum is a spreading shrub that produces ball-shaped flowers at the end of long woody stems. The stems support long, narrow leaves that are compactly arranged close to the stem. Leucospermum flowers are commonly called ‘pincushions’ or ‘firewheels’ due to their rounded, symmetrical flower heads, which have masses of styles, or ‘pins’, sticking outwards. Leucospermums typically have a vase life of around 18 days.
While Leucospermums are marketed as ‘wildflowers’ in Australia, they are not native to Australia.
Growers entering the cut flower industry are encouraged to do extensive research on the inherent risks and challenges throughout the value chain. As leucospermums are a long-term investment and commercial production begins in their second year of growth, this is particularly relevant.
The wildflower industry is considered a mature industry in Australia. It has an active research & development (R&D) program that assists industry members develop better production techniques, works towards industry-wide standards and identifies marketing opportunities. The wildflower industry, including leucospermum producers, is represented by WildFlowers Australia, which represents a diverse range of industry participants, including growers, buyers, wholesalers, exporters and importers, and research and extension specialists.
Facts and figures
- Wildflower cultivation can achieve better returns per unit area of land and per unit of water for irrigation, than many other agricultural enterprises
- Growing wildflowers generally requires fewer inputs of pesticides, fertiliser and water than growing traditional flowers such as roses, carnations and annuals
- Leucospermums are native to South Africa
- Several species and hybrids of leucospermum are used as cut flowers, and may be marketed as ‘pincushions’ or ‘firewheels’
- Leucospermums typically have a vase life of around 18 days
- Leucospermum are susceptible to phytophthora root rot
- The heads snap easily from the stem, so they need to be handled with care and harvested at the correct stage of opening
The Australian wildflower industry is located mainly in Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and south east Queensland.
There are no industry statistics about growers or production information at an enterprise level for leucospermum.