The protea family — Proteaceae — is one of the 3 characteristic fynbos families, and includes some of the most impressive flowers. The family includes an estimated 1700 species. The family includes some well-known genera, such as Protea, Leucospermum, Leucadendron, Serruria and Mimetes.
This protea “was first discovered in 1597, was illustrated in 1605, and has the distinction of being the first protea ever to be mentioned in botanical literature”.
Sightings: Cecilia Forest [June]
Sightings: Devil’s Peak [July]
Protea eximia (was Protea latifolia)
Spotted this gorgeous protea on the roadside whilst travelling on the back roads of Greyton. It looks nothing like a Sugarbush Protea, the flower head being more equal in size to a King Protea, and the size of the bush being large and tree-like in the fashion of a Waboom.
Sighting: Greyton [October]
This Protea was South Africa’s national flower until 1976 — before the honor went to the King Protea.
In Afrikaans it is known as the Suikerbos which is a common enough term: as in Suikerbossie Restaurant, and in the song “Suikerbos ek wil jou hê”.
The Sugarbush generally occurs in large thickets. The flower varies in color from a pale yellow hue to bright pink.
Sightings: abundant at Silvermine [April], Lion’s Head [April], Genadendal Trail [June], Stanley’s Light Trail, Ladismith [April]
I cannot help being impressed each time I see a King Protea — South Africa’s national flower. This unmistakable protea can be flowering all year round in different areas.
Sightings: plentiful on back table of Table Mountain [April-May]
We spotted these really pretty pincushions in the valley below Sleeping Beauty in the Langeberg Mountains behind Riversdale.
Sightings: Sleeping Beauty [August]
The Protea coronata is easy to spot — it is the only protea on Table Mountain with a white centre. The head is tightly formed, and often obscured by leaves at the end of the stem, which are a beautiful, deep color, looking as though they had been steeped in red wine overnight.
Sightings: Vlakkenberg [March], Cecilia Ravine [June], Lion’s Head [April]
Sightings: Beaverlac [October]
I was super-excited when I saw this protea on the hill behind Cape L’Agulhas. A quick serach online produced the following names: Bredasdorp protea, Limestone protea, Limestone sugarbush, Bredasdorpsuikerbos.
The bracts are the most vividly coloured of any protea I have ever seen, and have a border of fine, silver-white hairs along the edge.
Sighting: Cape L’Agulhas [September]
Not entirely sure yet which species of Protea serruria this is — will have to do some more checking…
Sightings: Beaverlac [October]
These beautiful proteas truly deserve both names “queen” and “magnifica”. Thriving at high altitude, they are able to withstand cold weather. The leaves are silvery in a similar fashion to the leaves of the Silver Tree.
Sightings: Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve [December]
This spectacular protea could just as easily be some form of alien jellyfish, swimming in a sea of leaves. Found only the Cederberg Wilderness Area, the yellow form is extremely rare in nature, but both colours are commonly cultivated.
Sighting: Ramskop Wild Flower Garden [October]
This is commonly known as a Waboom (Afrikaans “wa” = “wagon”, “boom” = “tree”). It can grow to the size of a tree, and supposedly the good folk trekking across the country uprooted them and tied them to the back of their wagons to act as brakes on steep descents. The largest bushes I have ever seen were the massive tree-sized specimens in Uilsgatkloof in the Central Cederberg.
Very common on the Cape Peninsula.
Sightings: Pipe-track [late - April]; between Vlakkenberg and East Fort [May]; Cecilia Ravine [June]; Uilsgatkloof, Central Cederberg [November]