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King Protea flower is a flowering plant with the scientific name Protea Cynaroides. It is a species of protea, a member of the Proteaceae family. One of the most recognized proteas, it is called King protea due to its resemblance to a crown. They have cluster roots, solitary ovules, and indehiscent fruits. They are native to the southwestern and southern parts of South Africa. King protea is the national flower of South Africa.

The genus protea falls under the tribe Proteae of the subfamily Proteoideae. Proteoideae has four tribes: Conospermeae, Petrophileae, Proteae and Leucadendreae. King protea has the largest flowering head in the genus. It is also known as Giant protea. The flower has an astonishing number of varieties within its family. It comes in different shapes, sizes, hues, and textures, making up over a thousand species. It derives its name from the Greek God Proteus, due to its innumerable shapes and forms. Proteus, son of Poseidon, had the ability to change his shape and appearance at will. The flower heads have the appearance of an artichoke. Hence, cynaroides gets its name from the artichoke’s genus cynara.

The genus protea is one of the oldest families of flowering plants. They are considered to date back about 300 million years.

King protea is a woody shrub with large dark green, glossy leaves. It grows up to a height of 1 m ( 3.28 ft ). Its flower heads are composite flowers. They have a collection of smaller flowers in the center surrounded by large, colorful bracts. King protea has a thick stem that extends deep into the soil, reaching underground moisture easily. Its roots are clumped together allowing it to absorb water better. This root system, called proteoid, allows it to survive in soil with poor nutrients. The flowers produce an excessive amount of nectar. That is why King protea is also known as sugar bush or honeypot. This is also a reason it attracts a lot of birds and bees. It has both male and female organs.

King protea can grow in dry, hot summers as well as wet, cold winters. It can tolerate high fluctuations in temperature. It even survives under snow. The leaves are thick and hard which helps the plant to survive such harsh environments. King protea is mostly found in the Cape Floristic region of South Africa. The dry Cape land is prone to wildfires. It is adapted to survive the fires by its thick underground stem known as lignotuber. The underground stem contains many dormant buds. After a fire, these produce new growth. Bushfires are essential for this flower’s reproduction and regeneration. The heat from the fires trigger the seed sacks to burst open. The wind helps in dispersing them and autumn rain aids in their germination.

King protea requires a lot of sunlight to grow. It does not grow well in heavy clay-like or damp soil. It is hardy to zones USDA 8 to 11. The flowers should not be planted too close to one another. They require a lot of air circulation around their bases. Providing a top layer of mulch helps in protecting the root system by trapping moisture.

There are around 81 varieties of the King protea flower. They have several color forms, ranging from pink, red to white.

What do King Protea flower symbolize?

The history of a flower is often hidden in its symbolism. One can learn many interesting facts of a particular flower from its symbolism. Flowers have been an integral part of all religious functions and traditional ceremonies from time immemorial. Knowing the meaning of a flower also greatly helps us in deciding which flower to gift on which occasion.

As one of the oldest flowering plants, King protea flower meaning has a rich history attached to it. There are two known legends that gave the King protea flower meaning and symbolism.

One legend comes from the land of South Africa. The South Africans were enticed by the unique shape of the flower’s petals. The petals reminded them of a crown. Hence, they named the flower King Protea.

The other legend comes from Greek mythology. Proteus, the son of Poseidon, could change his appearance at will. He also had another power, to see the future. He was often sought out by people who wanted his prophecies. To avoid them, he frequently changed his form. The King protea flower, too, has a multitude of different shapes and sizes. The King protea flower meaning and symbolism came from the god Proteus.

King protea flower meaning and symbolism is associated with change and transformation. It symbolizes diversity, courage, and uniqueness. It is a very unusual plant, quite different from other flowers. King protea teaches everyone to embrace a beauty that is different and unique. It tends to thrive in conditions where normally other plants die. Thus, the King protea flower meaning symbolizes strength and longevity.

What do the various colors of the King Protea flower mean?

The colors of a flower add a deeper meaning to its symbolism. Colors are not only there to enhance a flower’s beauty. They offer a greater value to the general symbolic meaning.

The King protea gets its color from the bracts. They come in colors of red, powder-pink, white or a hue thereof. The bracts have a silvery sheen.

King White:

It has white petals and lime green spikes. They bloom in the winter, in rocky soil.

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King Pink:

This King protea has pale pink petals and bright yellow leaves. It requires a lot of space to grow as the flower can grow up to 30 cm in diameter. It is of medium size shrub. The King pink blooms in the summer. It can tolerate drought but require water during its planting summer. It will also require water in very dry condition. This flower needs well drained acidic soil.

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King Red:

This King protea thrives in heavier soil than the rest of the King proteas. It can tolerate light frosts. It grows up to a height of 2 m (6.56 ft). It has red petals and yellowish-white spikes.

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Little Prince:

This is a compact King protea. It is often grown in small gardens and containers. It blooms year round, reaching up to a height of 1 m (3.28 ft).

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Interesting facts and characteristics of the King Protea flower

  • King protea is the National flower of South Africa.
  • The flower appears on South African passports and birth certificates.
  • The 5-Rand coin of South Africa also has the King protea on it.
  • It needs acidic soil with lots of gravel and sand.
  • The flower head resembles the vegetable artichoke.
  • The most commonly found King protea has pink bracts with silvery sheen.
  • King protea is a very popular-cut flower.
  • The seeds are large, hairy nuts.
  • This plant can cause irritation on skin and pain in the mouth, if consumed.
  • The bulb of the plant is toxic to children.
  • The King protea plant is not very easy to breed.
  • Excessive fertilizers and irregular watering patterns often destroy this plant.
  • The best time to sow this plant is in early spring.
  • King protea requires plenty of sunlight to thrive.
  • King protea is a perennial plant.
  • In 1735, Swedish born Carl Linnaeus named the plant Protea (Proteaceae),
  • King protea is the most popular protea among its 1500 species.
  • The King protea is the largest protea.
  • This flower has thick stems that reaches up to a height of 3 m (9.84 ft).
  • It develops around 6 to 10 flower heads.
  • The flower heads are dome-shaped, consisting of many tubular shaped small flowers.
  • King protea is pollinated by sunbirds, sugar birds, honeybees, monkey beetles, rove beetles, and scarab beetles.
  • Its leaves can be drunk in the form of tea.
  • King protea is abundantly found along the coast of Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
  • Pruning needs to be done regularly during the plant’s younger stage.
  • The flowers are non-fragrant.
  • The King protea makes an excellent dry flower.
  • King protea can be propagated from seeds or from cuttings.
  • This flower can grow in soil with very poor amount of nutrients.

Best time to gift someone King Protea flowers

King protea flowers symbolize courage and uniqueness. Gifting someone these flowers can convey a strong message of courage and transformation. When someone is shifting to a better job or new location, one can give King protea flowers. These flowers are increasingly used in bridal bouquets nowadays. Today’s brides are bold and beautiful. They want to celebrate and embrace their uniqueness. They are often seen opting for King protea flowers in their bouquets to showcase strength and courage.

The King protea flower is a unique one in appearance. Florists often use it when they want a bold focal piece for their floral arrangement.