Fresh Choice
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Fresh Choice
By: Kate Penn, Floral Management

What do I do with that?" is the most common response a leucadendron evokes from an unknowing designer, (L.Salignum) Granted, this most prolific member of the Protea family does not complement lisianthus and sweet peas and other more delicate flowers, but designers who swear by it say it's one of the most versatile and cost-effective flowers in their mix. "It's a filler flower, a focal flower and a line flower all in one," says David Strong, AIFD, of Piano Flowers and Gifts in Memphis, Tenn. Strong has been using leucadendron for about ten years, mainly in his commercial and high-end work, "It's not for the meat and potatoes market, but it's great if you're trying to go after the higher-end market or just make yourself stand out," he says.

Some other favorite features: It's phototropic, which means you get those "fabulous twisty stems that are great in vegetative designs," says Ren'e van Rems, AIFD, of the California Cut Flower Commission. It can be a very tall stem, so it's great as a line flower. It boasts a great shelf life three weeks in a 40'F cooler (no lower than 35'F) and 10 days to two weeks in a vase - and it's available year-round. If you're a leucadendron rookie, the fall and holiday season is a good time to give them a try. Here's an overview of some of the more widely available species.

Yellows and Golds

As spring nears, you can look forward to bright yellow and gold leucadendron to add some spark to your offerings. Look for: L. Laureolum or yellow tulip (photo) - both the male and female are very showy with bright yellow bracts and soft green foliage.

Yellow Tulips

L. Galpinii has skinny, twisted grayish green leaves and a fuzzy silver ball on it. L. Linifolium has skinny, pinkish little leaves and a marble-sized silver cone. Another vertical, pine-like species is the female L. Teretifolium.

Green and Silvery Fillers

Those who know and love leucadendron call them the "sleeping giant of filler flowers" - and it's no wonder. You can take your pick from spiny, vertical species to the loose, feathery ones.

It's a great alternative to traditional holiday foliage, since it has a nice, strong line. Here are some of the most widely available: L. Argenteum or Silver Tree (photo) the male plant features a large, golf ball-sized silver cone surrounded by soft, feathery silver foliage. L. Uliginosum or mini silver leaf is a great high-style filler, with its ivory to yellow brackets and silver-haired small leaves. L. Pisa is a new hybrid with yellow leaves and a silver center.
The female cone is greenish-pink and the male cone is bright yellow. Male L. discolor or flame tips (photo) has bright yellow bracts with a large bright red male flower. L. Salignum has the widest distribution of all leucadendron. The male bracts are usually red or yellow, while the female's are soft ivory, with a light touch of red.

This article was previously published in Floral Management, September 1996. © 1997 - 2017
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