The Protea Family
The Protea Family is our most well-known plant family: grown from as far afield as Hawaii to New Zealand and Israel, and marketed world-wide, it is a multi-million Rand industry in over five countries.
Proteas include species known to almost every South African. The King Protea - Protea cynaroides is South Africa's national flower. However, the majority of species are poorly known, some so rare as to only have been seen by a privileged few: The Mace Pagoda - Mimetes stokoei was seen by less than a handful of people before it became extinct. By contrast, the Blushing Bride - Serruria florida, which has symbolised marriage since it's discovery by the French Huguenots, is a success story: critically rare in the wild, it is now common in gardens throughout the country. The majority of species are not so fortunate: over 120 protea species are listed in the Red Data Book. These include species isolated on remote mountain peaks, grimly clinging to the vestiges of a once more favourable climate which saw glaciers bulldoze Europe; and others once common, but now reduced to a few populations in a sea of inhospitable human encroachment.