Genus of the Week
Week of November 2-8
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the
context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of
all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you should also visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes
, a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family.
This week's genus:
Number of Species: Probably dozens, with many horticultural varieties.
Root: Named by Linnaeus for Proteus, the mythical sea-god who had the ability to change
into many different shapes. Apparently this is in reference to the heterogenous forms of the
many species in this genus.
Plants in the genus Protea, whose flowers resemble those of the Composites, are valued mainly
for their ornamental beauty, and are often used in dried flower arrangements. The flowers on these
shrubby species are often large and showy, as is typical of tropical and sub-tropical species,
but the petals are often reduced with bracts visible instead.
Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Protea species:
- Travel to South Africa, to the Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve, where there is a
native Protea community. In this country the genus has the common name of Sugarbush.
(Unfortunately, a few of the links on this page don't work, but it is worth a visit anyway.)
- Stop by the Protea gallery at
Proteasales.com for a glimpse at several different species as well as the specs on their
size and the time they last in a vase.
- Be sure to stop by the
Proteaceae page from the Western Cape Schools Network of South Africa. There are some nice
drawings here depicting flower morphology, and photos of P. nitida (the "Waboom") and
P. cynaroides (the "King Protea", national flower of the Republic of South Africa.
- The Arboretum of the University of California at Santa Cruz has
several photos of plants in this genus.
- Click here to
see a copy of the report published in Horticulture Digest, from the Hawaii Cooperative
Extension Service, concerning the growth of Protea species imported from South Africa.
(As if having pineapples wasn't enough, they need more non-native species??)
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
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