From the Proteaceae family in South Africa, the genus Leucospermum, commonly referred to as Pincushion or Nutans, has the highest quantity of stems exported. A breeder of this genus, Future Fynbos, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and what better way to celebrate it than with a new colour?! They just released Ayoba® Pink. In this article is more about Leucospermum, the export figures of this genus, the Ayoba brand, the newly released colour, and what Future Fynbos has in the pipeline for the future.
The Family Proteaceae is found distributed over the African, South American, and Australasian continents (former Gondwanaland). There are 82 Genera in the family, the most widely known of these is the Macadamia. Another outstanding fact about this family is that none of the genera are shared on the different continents, explains O'Brien.
The Proteaceae of South Africa, focusing on four main genera, namely Protea, Leucadendron, Serruria, and Leucospermum, has developed into a successful global cut flower industry since the first commercial plantings in the early 1900s, with South Africa still leading the way. "South Africa is one of 13 countries currently growing the family commercially."
From the family Proteaceae, the genus with the highest quantity of exported stems sold from South Africa is Leucospermum. "According to Cape Flora SA 2021/2022 statistics, a total of 15 million Leucospermum stems were exported from South Africa during last season (48% of the total stems sold of the four main Genera - 3-year average). Export volumes of Leucospermum picked up 29% from the previous season and are expected to be similar for the coming season. According to South African exporters, 67% of South African Proteaceae is exported to Europe", she explains.
Breeding to fill the gaps in the market
Future Fynbos focuses on these four main commercial genera within the Proteaceae family occurring in South Africa. "The company was established in 2003 and focused on protected, branded, and managed varieties within the Proteaceae family. This is done through a focused breeding program. Through our breeding program, we have released several new varieties to our cut flower and potplant growers over the past 20 years under the Ayoba brand. Our breeding is specifically targeted to fill the gaps in the market. Each new variety goes through stringent field and vase life evaluations before being released. It takes approximately 10 years to bring a new variety to the market. Once a variety has been released, there is research that is carried out to maximize the growing of the variety", she says.
New in their colour range of Ayoba Leucospermum is Ayoba® Pink, which will enter the market as a cut flower this season with limited availability from September to November. "A first in the pastel range Ayoba® Pink will add a feminine quality to the already colourful basket of commercially available Ayoba® Leucospermum, ie. Ayoba® Sun, Ayoba® Peach, Ayoba® Orange, Ayoba® Yellow and Ayoba® Red.”
Also, Master Florist Gregor Lersch is enthusiastic about this new addition: "This new colour can be used in a more feminine way and is very exciting for the Proteaceae industry—it could start a whole new era for this family."
Ayoba Pink in an arrangement
More colours to come
And according to O'Brien, there are more colour tones in the pipeline. "It will be a year of pink for Future Fynbos as we have a hot pink and marshmallow pink colour coming up."
"All in all, we aim to remain at the forefront of the development of new varieties of Proteaceae that can be protected through plant breeders' rights and managed globally for the benefit and sustainability of our company but also for the benefit of South Africa."
She ends with the quote of Soutter (1984): "It is generally said that a horticultural industry is only as good as its cultivars, and certainly in the case of floriculture, one can add the rate at which new cultivars are placed on the market."