Thursday, 8 May 2014

MELBOURNE STREET TREES 73 - KING PROTEA

The king protea (Protea cynaroides) is a flowering plant. It is a distinctive member of the Proteas, having the largest flower head in the genus. The species is also known as giant protea, honeypot or king sugar bush. It is widely distributed in the southwestern and southern parts of South Africa in the fynbos region.  The king protea is the national flower of South Africa. It also is the flagship of the The Protea Atlas Project, run by the South African National Botanical Institute.

The king protea has several colour forms and horticulturists have recognised 81 garden varieties, some of which have injudiciously been planted in its natural range. In some varieties the pink of the flower and red borders of leaves are replaced by a creamy yellow. This unusual flower has a long vase life in flower arrangements, and makes for an excellent dried flower.  Protea cynaroides is adapted to survive wildfires by its thick underground stem, which contains many dormant buds; these will produce the new growth after the fire. The plant has adapted well to growth in Australia.

It is a woody shrub with thick stems and large dark green, glossy leaves. Most plants are one metre in height when mature, but may vary according to locality and habitat from 0.35 m to 2 metres in height. The "flowers" of Protea cynaroides are actually composite flower heads (termed an inflorescence) with a collection of flowers in the centre, surrounded by large colourful bracts. The flowerheads vary in size, from about 120 mm to 300 mm in diameter. Large, vigorous plants produce six to ten flower heads in one season, although some exceptional plants can produce up to forty flower heads on one plant. The colour of the bracts varies from a creamy white to a deep crimson, but the soft pale pink bracts with a silvery sheen are the most prized.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.





5 comments:

  1. I love this! I buy these in the flower-shop, but I wish they could grow in MY garden!!!

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  2. These are gorgeous! They sometimes use them in flower arrangements here.

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