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 long, narrow, tubular flowers. Those beautiful “petals” are actually colorful bracts (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.
Protea represents ingenuity, diversity, transformation and courage.
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 the 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.
The Legend of Proteus
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 with their diverse array of shapes, sizes and colors. And this is the main reason why this flower got its name associated with Proteus.
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.
The flowers come in shades of white, purple, red, orange, yellow and green.
Spring, Autumn, Winter, Summer
Protea 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).