Botany Photo of the Day
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Protea cynaroides

Protea cynaroides

Taisha wrote today's entry:

Today's photo is of Protea cynaroides, or the king protea. This image of the national flower of South Africa was taken by Marie Viljoen@Flickr on January 8, 2012 in its native country. Thanks Marie!

Protea cynaroides is native to South Africa, where it is found across much of the biodiverse fynbos region of the country at elevations from sea level to 1500 meters. It mainly grows in sunny areas with acidic, well-draining soil. Bloom times, flower colour, flower size and leaf size vary significantly across its range, associated (at least in part) with differences in geoclimatic factors. The genus name Protea is fitting then, considering it is named after the Greek god Proteus, who according to mythology was said to be able to change his shape at will. The specific epithet means "like Cynara", in reference to the resemblance the flowering heads have to artichokes.

King protea is known for its large, showy, dome-shaped inflorescences made up of many tepaloid flowers subtended by stiff showy bracts. This evergreen shrub has glossy leathery leaves growing from a thick woody stalk.


What a striking plant and arresting photograph.

This looks like a big pink cotton candy artichoke....

Looks like it could be named: Desert Lotus

Those leaf edges are the best part. Nice too that they match the bract(?) or tepal(?) edges.

As a south African living in the Western Cape near Cape Town, I was thrilled to see a plant native to the Cape, which we see in flower in its natural environment every year. I hope man more photos from the Cape Floral Kingdom will find their way to your website in future.

Here is the link to the original post, with the protea in context:

I just love this plant. First time seeing it. Would love to know if my area would be compatible with growing it.

Aside from considering how cold it may get in your garden in winter, this protea and many others cannot be grown in soils where phosphorous fertilizer is being applied. They very readily take it up due to their specialized roots (evolved to cope with phosphorous depleted soils). Some people even say that growing them in naturally phosphorous rich soil causes decline.

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