The King of the Cape Floristic Region

Jan 23, 2024 | General News

Protea cynaroides – The King Protea

Protea cynaroides, also called the king protea, is a distinctive and world-renowned member of the Proteaceae family and has the largest flower head in the genus. Widely distributed in the southwestern and southern parts of South Africa in the fynbos region the king protea is also known as giant protea, honeypot or king sugar bush.

Protea cynaroides are not only the most stunning of the protea flowers, they have adapted to survive wildfires by its thick underground stem, which contains many dormant buds; these will produce the new growth after the fire. They are also hardy and cope with long-term drought conditions.

The King Protea is tough and adaptable; as the national flower of South Africa it is a symbol of this nation’s resilience. It also is the flagship of the Protea Atlas Project, run by the South African National Botanical Institute (SANBI).

Protea cynaroides is visited by nectar feeding birds, such as Sugarbirds and Sunbirds, and by bees and beetles, but it is the birds that pollinate the flowers. As they feed on the nectar in the flowers, their heads touch the pollen presenters and transfer pollen from flower to flower.

The king protea has several colour forms and horticulturists have recognised 81 garden varieties; some varieties the pink of the flower and red borders of leaves are replaced by a creamy yellow. 

Fun Facts About the Protea

  • Proteas are ancient flowers that date back 300 million years, making them one of the oldest flowers on the planet.
  • Proteas were around and blooming the same time dinosaurs roamed the planet.
  • The outer ring of petals on the king protea resembles a crown, which befits its name.
  • A symbol of the king protea is represented on South Africa’s coat of arms and appears on birth certificates, passports and currency.
  • The king protea is the emblem of South Africa’s cricket and netball teams.

How to plant your king protea:

  1. Dig a hole twice the size of your gift.
  2. Plant in well-draining soil.
  3. If the soil seems full of clay and rocks add some compost to the hole and increase size of initial hole but if the soil seems sandy and nice black colour, no need to add any compost.
  4. Place the biodegradable jiffy pot directly onto the hole and cover any open gaps with the soil removed from the hole.
  5. Wet the soil after planting.
  6. Water the plants twice a week with at least 1 liter of water.
  7. Once the plant has established itself, watering once a week would be sufficient. It takes roughly 3 months for the plant to establish itself.
  8. Harvest the flowers regularly to promote new growth.
  9. Keep out of extremely high heat and humidity.

More about Mont Blanc Nursery

Your protea was grown for us by the wonderful people at Mont Blanc Nursery in Riversdale.

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