Flowers in Focus: facts about King Proteas

Flowers in Focus: facts about King Proteas

This month, we’re highlighting a real Fig & Bloom favourite: King Proteas. Strikingly bold, beautifully unique, and absolutely stunning in a bouquet, it’s no surprise that the Protea species is one of the most popular ornamental flowers.

But how much do we really know about these plants? Our team has done some digging, and it’s safe to say there are some juicy facts about these interesting flowers. Read on to find out.

king protea

Fun facts about King Proteas

  1. Protea flowers come in many different shapes and forms. Yet the most common species used in floristry are the pincushion Protea, blushing-bride Protea, and, of course, the King Protea.
  2. They’re known as one of the oldest flowers on the planet, with first sightings dating back around 300 million years.
  3. The Protea received its name (‘proteaceae’) in 1735 by Carl Linnaeus, a taxonomist and botanist.
  4. Yet, it’s said that this name was derived from Greek mythology, from ‘Proteus’ the son of Poseidon. Proteus was a shapeshifter, just like our beloved Proteas, which come in all different shapes and sizes!
    king protea
  5. They naturally originate from the Southern Hemisphere, from the supercontinent Gondwana – or what we now know as Africa, South America, Australia, and New Zealand.
  6. They come in over 1500 distinct species, across both trees and shrubs. The King Protea, itself, has eighty-one different varieties!
  7. Proteas also go by the name “sugarbushes” because of the incredible amount of nectar produced by the flower heads.
  8. The King Protea species has been South Africa’s national flower since 1976.
  9. You’ll find King Proteas on the South African 5-Rand coin, in South African passports and birth certificates, and it’s the name of the country’s cricket team!
    king protea
  10. While they’ve become linked with South African culture and society, Australia is home to the greatest number of species of Protea in the world! With over 850 species, this is far more than South Africa, which comes second with 330.
  11. The largest of the Protea family is the King Protea, which gets its name from its crown-like appearance. They can reach an incredible 3 feet in height!
  12. The Protea is an incredibly hardy plant and can survive a wildfire! In fact, Protea plants are known as ‘pyrophylic’ (fire-loving), as many of the species need to burn so that they can germinate and continue to live.
  13. King Proteas manage to get all the water they need through their leaves, soaking up the moisture left on their surface from fog.
  14. Not only do Proteas look amazing, but they also have other uses. The leaves can be enjoyed in tea, and the nectar produced by the flowers can even be used as medicine for chest illnesses. (Please consult your doctor before trying this!)
    king protea
  15. Proteas are steeped in symbolism. Some say they’re a mark of courage and are therefore a great gift for someone who’s about to embark on an exciting, or challenging, life experience.
  16. They’re also known to be linked to transformation. So, if you know someone who’s looking to make a substantial change in their life, this could be the gift for them!
  17. Some say that these flowers have spiritual links, performing as a sort of guide. Having them in your home or gifting them to someone else is therefore thought to give strength in challenging times.
  18. The King Protea can live up to 15 years naturally in the wild!
  19. Not only do they live long in the ground, but also in the vase. They have a great vase life when fresh and look wonderful dried – so you can keep them for even longer!
  20. If you want to continue to keep Proteas in your home for the long run, you can root them from just a cutting from the main plant!
  21. In just one season, a King Protea can produce a whopping ten flower heads!
Kakadu bouquet by Fig & Bloom

    Get the Protea bug

    Don’t those facts just make you love the beautiful Protea even more? They certainly boosted our enjoyment of them!

    Want to enjoy Proteas in your home, or gift them to a loved one? You’re just in luck. Proteas are in season through summer until the end of autumn. They feature in our stunning Kakadu design, alongside other seasonal blooms, such as Alstroemeria, Eucalyptus, Silver Suede and Geraldton Wax. Starring blush peaches, deep magentas, and soft silvery greens, it’s the perfect bouquet for the free spirits we know and love. Shop the Kakadu now!

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