What in the world?! Is it some sort of Tarantula? No. It's a new form of beauty. Old world avant-garde for those seeking something a little different in their floral flair. Welcome to the world of Mimetes cucullatus also commonly known as the Common Pagoda or Rooistompie (meaning 'Red Stump'). This south african term is derived from the stump or stumps of this plant left after a fire and the new red growth that sprouts from it. Mimetes cucullatus comes to us from the southwestern climes of South Africa's Cape Province. It's in the Protea family and has not spent much time in the floral limelight. Well, now is its time to shine.
Mimetes cucullatus, the name Mimetes is derived from the greek term for 'mimic', is an upright, evergreen shrub that can grow up to 5 feet tall and wide. It produces multiple stems of bushy growth. New growth is blushed in tones that range from bright red to rich rosé. Now, for those that are familiar with other protea this characteristic may seem familiar. This shrub's characteristics are quite similar to those of some Leucadendrons and Leucospermums, however, there is one strikingly unique difference. The distinctive flower heads of this shrub are more like a hybrid version of the previous genera. Like Leucadendrons, they produce vividly colored bracts. Like Leucospermums, they produce pin-like styles. The difference is that the flowers of Mimetes cucullatus are produces directly below a leaf and emerge from a cylindrical hood. Singly, the flowers are not much to write home about but, clustered in a colorful comb, terminally at the tops of stems, they resemble the fiery fantastical flames of a torch. The look is seductively sophisticated and up until now been rarely seen by most plant lovers.
Mimetes cucullatus likes full sun locations, light, free-draining but moisture-rentative soil, regular water, and is hardy down to around 25 degrees fahrenheit/-3 degrees celsius. It loves coastal conditions and benefits from pruning, which will keep you in red new growth year-round as well as give you some pretty cool floral cuttings. Also, as it is in the Protea family, it does not like to be fertilized with phosphorus. Results can be deadly. It is indeed a plant with a unique mystique and a dandy physique. For those of you wanting your own try Annies Annuals or Australian Native Plants Nursery. Tell 'em The Plant Provocateur sent you!