Protea cynaroides

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The King Protea (Protea cynaroides) is a flowering plant. It is a distinctive Protea, 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 of 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 recognized 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 the fires by its thick underground stem, which contains many dormant buds; these will produce the new growth after the fire.


Contents

Description

Protea cynaroides 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 flower heads 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.

Etymology

The specific epithet cynaroides refers to the artichoke-like appearance of the flower-heads: the artichoke belongs to the genus Cynara.

Sport

The King Protea is the National Flower of South Africa and as such lends its name to the national Cricket team, whose nickname is the Proteas. In the early 1990s there was a political debate as to how and if the flower should be incorporated onto the national Rugby teams shirts, perhaps replacing the controversial Springbok.

External links

Gallery

Western Cape, South Africa

Western Cape, South Africa


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