This Summer's "It" Flower and How to Style It

Have you seen it around yet?
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Have you seen it around yet?
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At dinner last month with G and my parents, I noticed a single stunning flower in our table's bud vase. Bright orange and almost alien-like with scaly leaves and a dramatic shape, it had me interested and I asked our waitress for its name. When she couldn't tell me, I spent a good portion of the drive home googling variations of "orange scaly flower," without any luck.

The next day, I was surprised to see the flowers in a summery scene in my Instagram feed, again at an event that evening, and a few days later at a darling sundry shop on the east side where they were the focal point of a store display. When I realized they were the same flowers chosen by the on-set stylist for my bedding shoot (which you can see on the bedside table here), I finally secured the details. 

Leucospermum cordifolium isn't the sexiest name for a flower (they're also called Pincushion flowers and Flaming Giants), but since I first laid eyes on them I've been seeing them everywhere. They're like the brighter, edgy cousin of the hydrangeas I usually have around the house. Placed in a large vase in the center of my kitchen counter, they have the ability to brighten the entire room, and start a conversation with their uniqueness. They're clearly a favorite of stylists, restaurants, and event planners for a reason - high impact, indie, and oh so photo worthy.

Best of all, they last much longer than most flowers. Since they're woody and don't have delicate petals, they last upwards of three weeks and, rather than drooping like most blooms do once they're past their prime, they just fade gradually in color.

Brightening our office kitchen

Brightening our office kitchen

How to Style It:

Because the blooms are so striking on their own, simple is best. Use an extremely sharp knife to trim at least 1-inch off of the ends, then place five to seven flowers in a wide-mouthed vase or pitcher and let them hang over the edge to create a sloping, dramatic angle. Alternatively, place a single bloom in a small bud vase.

Quick Facts:

Latin name:
Leucospermum cordifolium
Colloquial name: Pincushion Proteaceae Flower or Flaming Giant
Place of origin: South Africa, first bred in 1974
Available colors: The flowers come in a sunset palette—I've seen yellow and red versions.
Size: Cut stems generally range in length from 2 to 3 feet long
Where to find it: Wholesale flower marts, from March through August
Where it's most popular: Israel, California, Hawaii, Zimbabwe, Australia, and New Zealand
How it grows: In shrubs, roughly 5-by-8 feet wide
Most closely related to: Chilean firebush and macadamia nuts (who knew?)
Recommended vases: Small bud vase for single stems and simple glass pitchers for bouquets
Fun fact: Each "flower" actually contains hundreds of flowers—the "pins" of the pincusion are actually the pistils of the individual flowers
Cost: Varies between florists, but I paid $5 per stem.