Concealed Conebush

Scientific Name
Leucadendron cryptocephalum Guthrie
Higher Classification
Common Names
Concealed Conebush (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii,v)c(iv)+2ab(i,ii,iii,v)c(iv)
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
EOO <260 km²and AOO 28 km², two fragmented subpopulations remain at two locations. Two subpopulations known through herbarium records are now locally extinct due to habitat loss to crop cultivation and alien plant invasion. Monitoring recorded fire-related population fluctuations and decline in one small subpopulation, and it appears to now also be locally extinct due to too frequent fire. One known remaining subpopulation of several thousand plants is declining due to alien plant invasion, inappropriate fire management and overgrazing.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
Groenland Mountains to Potberg.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Potberg Ferricrete Fynbos, Elim Ferricrete Fynbos
It occurs in north-facing slopes with gravels over clays, 50-400 m. Mature individuals are killed by fires, and only seeds survive. Wind-dispersed seeds are stored in fire-resistant inflorescences, and released after fires. It is dioecious, with insect-pollinated male and female flowers occurring on separate plants.
It has lost 67% of habitat in the past to agriculture and is likely to continue to lose habitat to expanding cultivation. Threatened by the fact that the subpopulations are localised and susceptible to alien invasion by Acacia and Hakea species, overgrazing of land and lack of fires in the remaining fragments.

Leucadendron cryptocephalum is currently known from 2 extant subpopulations over a 120 km long range. Extreme fluctuations is inferred from the fact that this species is a serotinous reseeder, which are known to undergo density-dependent population fluctuations of one to three orders of magnitude in response to fire (Bond et al. 1995). The subpopulation on the north slopes of Potberg is the largest with over 50 000 individuals, last oberved between 1991 and 2002. The second subpopulation in Shaw's Pass declined from 40 adults and 400 seedlings in 1977 (Hall 1982a) to about seven adults and 200 seedlings in 1980; 30 adults in 1992; one adult and no seedlings in 2002; and 11 mature individuals in 2005 (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers Programme).

Population trend
The Diepkloof subpopulation on Potberg has been identified as a high priority site for inclusion into the De Hoop Nature Reserve (Jarman, 1986). Although included in the Potberg Conservancy the area has not yet been secured for formal conservation, despite an investigation into including the lower foothills in to the Potberg Nature Reserve in the early 1980s (Hall, 1982b). The Shaw's Pass area was being considered for proclamation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1980 (Hall, 1982a), but this was never realised, and the appropriate legislation has subsequently been revoked.
This species is very similar to L. laureolum and easily misidentified as such. It is smaller in size, paler in colouring and earlier in flowering. However, it is the very tight involucral leaves which seal off the female flowerheads that are the diagnostic character for this species.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Leucadendron cryptocephalum GuthrieCR B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)Raimondo et al. (2009)
Leucadendron cryptocephalum GuthrieEndangered Hilton-Taylor (1996)
Leucadendron cryptocephalum GuthrieEndangered Hall et al. (1980)

Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J.C. 2000. Cape Plants: A conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.

Hall, A.V., De Winter, M., De Winter, B. and Van Oosterhout, S.A.M. 1980. Threatened plants of southern Africa. South African National Scienctific Programmes Report 45. CSIR, Pretoria.

Hilton-Taylor, C. 1996. Red data list of southern African plants. Strelitzia 4. South African National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

Raimondo, D., von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. and Manyama, P.A. 2009. Red List of South African Plants. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Rebelo, T. 2001. Sasol Proteas: A field guide to the proteas of southern Africa. (2nd ed.). Fernwood Press, Vlaeberg, Cape Town.

Rebelo, A.G., Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2019. Leucadendron cryptocephalum Guthrie. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2023/11/28

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Distribution map

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