The Protea is the national flower of South Africa, and the flagship species of the Cape Floral Kingdom (they are a typical example of fynbos). Proteas are mostly bird-pollinated. They are shrubs with broad leaves and bloom flame-red and magenta-pink in the summer. They have somewhat woody stems and are typically deep-rooted. Protea flowers do not have separate sepals & petals. Instead, they have what's often called tepals. Proteas develop little dry fruits containing a single seed. Some genera (for example, the Leucadendron) have the sexes separated onto separate plants.
Click here to view a photo archive of Proteas.
Proteas in Table Mountain National Park
Proteas create jobs for thousands of farm-labourers, who supply the flowers for the world's cut-flower industry. Proteas get their name from the Greek sea god Proteus, who could change his form at will - quite appropriate, given the many unusual shapes of proteas which are found.