Plants to see on a Table Mountain
Pincushions are part of the Protea family and are abundant on the Table Mountain Chain. The flower heads are distinctive in that they resemble pins poking out of a cushion.
Pincushions have an amazing adaptation to the frequent fires of the Western Cape.
They have a creamy substance on the fruit which serves to attract ants. These ants carry the fuit to their nests where once the coating has been removed the seed lies undisturbed. Following a fire and the rapid heating and cooling of the soil caused first by the fire, and by the bare soils exposure to the sun. The seed then germinates into an environment free of competing adult vegetation and many of the rodents, birds, and insects that may eat the seedling.
This symbiotic relationship between the plant and the ants in under threat due to the alien Argentinian ant. These ants, having eaten the substance that attracted them, leave the fruit on the surface where they are eaten by birds and rodents.
The pincushion pictured below is the Grey Tree Pincushion. This is commonly found throughout the Cape Peninsula and surrounding areas.