Proteas usually flower during spring time and are used for ornamental practices as cut flowers and for decoration. Protea cynaroides (above), the king protea, is South Africa’s national flower, symbolizing change and transformation..
Proteas attracted the attention of botanists visiting the Cape of Good Hope in the 17th century. Many species were introduced to Europe in the 18th century, enjoying a unique popularity at the time amongst botanists.
The genus Protea was named in 1735 by Carl Linnaeus after the Greek god Proteus, who could change his form at will because they have such a wide variety of forms.
Most proteas occur south of the Limpopo River. However, 92% of the species occurs only in the Cape Floristic Region, a narrow belt of mountainous coastal land from Clanwilliam to Grahamstown. The extraordinary richness and diversity of species characteristic of the Cape Flora are thought to be caused in part by the diverse landscape where populations can become isolated from each other and in time develop into separate species.