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Protea cynaroides

   (Family: Proteaceae)
Afrikaans: Grootsuikerkan English: King Protea, Giant Protea, King Sugar Bush  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Shrub
Height: 0.3 - 2m
Special properties:
  Drought Resistant (heavy)
  Frost Tolerant (heavy)
Rarity Status:
Preferred rainfall: Winter
Preferred altitude: 0 - 1500m
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Tolerated soil:  
  Sand (coarse texture, drains easily)
pH: acid
Biome: Fynbos
Flowering time EDIT
    x x x x            
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
Flower type
  Scarab Beetles and Protea Beetles and many other insects, as well as by birds
  Flower info
  The flowerheads vary in size, from about 120 mm to 300 mm in diameter. Large, vigorous plants produce six to ten flower heads in one season, although some exceptional plants can produce up to forty flower heads on one plant. The colour of the bracts varies from a creamy white to a deep crimson, but the soft pale pink bracts with a silvery sheen are the most prized.
Leaf shape EDIT
Leaf margin
Leaf type
Leaf arrangement
Leaf texture Smooth
Bark / Stem type
  Leaf info EDIT
  large dark green, glossy leaves.
Fruit type EDIT
  Seed info EDIT
  The seeds are quite large nuts, covered by hairs and stay in the old flower head for a year or more
Description EDIT
Pronunciation: PROH-tee-uh sin-nar-OY-deez

A distinctive Protea, having the largest flower head in the genus.
A woody shrub with thick stems and large dark green, glossy leaves.
Growing EDIT
Protea cynaroides can be propagated from seed or from cuttings. The stems have to be thick and strong to carry the heavy flower heads, this makes the taking of cuttings quite difficult, but good colour forms or cultivars have to be propagated from cuttings.
Cuttings are made from semi-hardwood, 6-10 cm long, of the current season's growth. The cuttings are dipped for about four seconds in a rooting hormone solution and placed in a growing house with bottom heat (25ºC) and intermittent mist. The rooted cuttings are potted up when the roots are well developed and planted out in the late autumn in South Africa, or in spring in colder areas.

The large nut-like seeds have to be treated during storage with a systemic fungicide with the active ingredient of metalaxyl (Apron) and sown from the middle of March, when the day temperature starts to drop. The seed is sown in open seedbeds, in a light, well drained soil and covered with a layer of sand (about 1 cm or 1 1/2 times the size of the seed). The bed is then covered with a grid against the attacks from birds and rodents. The seed will germinate three to four weeks after sowing.
The plants are generally about four or five years old from seed before they flower. On older plants the side shoots tend to be quite short, so to encourage the development of new shoots and long stems, the stems bearing old flower heads should be cut back to ground level.

Older plants also tend to become woody and should be cut back to ground level, where they will sprout again from the thick underground rootstock.
Distribution EDIT
Occurs from the Cedarberg in the northwest to Grahamstown in the east. It occurs on all mountain ranges in this area, except for the dry interior ranges, and at all elevations, from sea level to 1500 meters high.
Grows in a harsh environment with dry, hot summers and wet, cold winters.
History EDIT
The King Protea is the National Flower of South Africa.
This unusual flower has a long vase life in flower arrangements, and makes for an excellent dried flower.
Ecology EDIT
Protea cynaroides is adapted to survive the fires by its thick underground stem, which contains many dormant buds; these will produce the new growth after the fire.

The flowers are fed at by a range of nectarivorous birds, mainly sunbirds and sugarbirds.
Along with birds, a host of insects are attracted to the flowerhead, such as bees and beetles.
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