Protea is a genus of about 50 species of shrubs and trees in the family Proteaceae. They grow in regions of the Southern Hemisphere where conditions are particularly dry.
These plants have leathery leaves and clusters of narrow tubular flowers. Those beautiful “petals” are actually colorful bracts or modified leaves, surrounding a central mass of small, tubular flowers. Proteas are large, exotic and fascinating. They appear in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and are considered one of the oldest flowers in the world!
The genus name was derived from Proteus, the son of the Greek god Poseidon, who had the ability to transform himself into many different shapes. He could change his shape at will, just like Proteas that come in a variety of stunning shapes and colors.
In Greek mythology, Poseidon was the god of the sea, earthquakes and horses. His son, Proteus, had the tendency to often change his shape and appearance in order to avoid detection and to deter people from finding him. He could change his shape whenever he wanted, hence the name given to these flowers as they come in a variety of stunning shapes, sizes and colors.
Proteas represent ingenuity, diversity, transformation and courage.
Their diversity is fabulous, although many of them are of ephemeral beauty. They are also hardy and can withstand the toughest of weather conditions.
Interesting facts about Protea
King Protea (Protea cynaroides)
Protea cynaroides, also known as the King Protea, is one of the largest and most striking of the Protea species, prized for its artichoke-like blooms.
King Protea is the national flower of South Africa. The South Africans use it as a symbol for the national cricket team and “The Proteas” is the nickname of their team. It is also used as a symbol on their documents, passports, birth certificates and coins.
Protea: One of the Oldest Flowers on Earth
These plants are among the oldest flowering plants on the planet. The ancestors of Protea plants date back to 300 million years ago!
Protea Plant Data
These flowers come in shades of white, purple, red, orange, yellow and green.
Spring, Autumn, Winter, Summer
Proteas range in height from tiny shrubs to tall trees of 10 meters (33 ft).
The majority of species prefer well drained, sandy and slightly acidic soil (pH 5.5 to 7.0).