Identifying Sugarbushes - Protea
The genus Protea is easily recognized by the involucral bracts which surround the inflorescences, the florets with three completely fused and one totally free perianth parts, and hairy, woody fruit almost indistinguishable from the ovaries. Additional features include a long narrow pollen presenter almost always joined to the style by a knee-joint, leaves which vary from linear to broad blades with simple tips, thickened red or yellow edges with a black mucron on the tips; perianth parts often with awns and densely aggregated into tight heads; involucral receptacle hard, woody and showing clear spirals when florets are removed.
1. Inflorescences borne at the tips of branches (usually solitary) goto 2
1' Inflorescences clustered along old stems, near base of plant goto section HYPOCEPHALUS
2. Leaves with blades continuous all the way to the stem (often reduced to a fine ribbing of less than 10mm length) at the base goto 3
2' Leaves with distinct, long stalks and spoon-like appearance goto section PROTEA
3. Involucral bracts covered on margins with hairs (bearded) or ciliate, inflorescences borne on well-leaved, long stems, chalice shaped to closed inflorescences with involucral bracts longer or equal to florets in length goto 4
3' Involucral bracts not covered with obvious hairs, or if so, then inflorescences either bowl shaped or with florets much longer than involucral bracts goto 6
3" Involucral bracts not bearded, but covered with thick woolly hairs on outer surfaces, flowers borne at ground level goto section PARACYNAROIDES
4. Involucral bracts ciliate, seldom bearded: either without conspicuous awns on perianth, perianth falling below styles on opening, or, with conspicuous awns on perianth, always hiding the styles, with some hairless involucral bracts goto 5
4' All distal involucral bracts distinctly bearded, more so at the tip, and florets with elongated long awns which remain extending beyond the styles in old seedheads goto section SPECIOSAE
5. Inflorescences smaller than 80mm in length, styles with an inconspicuous knee- joint; EXCEPTION INCLUDED: inflorescence greater than 80mm in length, opening to form a single circle of styles with an empty inflorescence interior (P. aurea) goto section EXERTAE
5' Inflorescences larger than 80mm in length, often with spoon-shaped inner involucral bracts; EXCEPTION INCLUDED: prostrate shrub with densely awned inflorescence (P. pudens) goto section LIGULATAE
6. Geographical areas outside the fynbos: Inflorescences with a primitive appearance: open, bowl-shaped, with involucral bracts opening to a nearly horizontal position, a difficult group to subdivide further (the validity of the groupings are suspect) goto 7
6' Fynbos species goto 11
7. Perianth collapsing without coiling in mature heads goto 8
7' Perianth coiled up and withdrawn in mature heads goto section CRISTATAE
8. Erect trees or with erect stems arising from a rootstock goto 9
8' Small prostrate or creeping plants goto section PALUDOSAE
9. Young stems hairless. Involucral bracts lightly dense-short haired or hairless, often with a white waxy bloom goto 10
9' Young stems hairy. Involucral bracts densely silky hairy on exterior surface, perianth tube and tips with shaggy hairs on outer surface goto section LASIOCEPHALAE
10. Style usually > 60 mm long. Involucral bracts remain open after flowering. Inflorescence may have a dome-shaped receptacle. Perianth tips with shaggy hairs goto section PATENTIFLORAE
10' Style usually < 50 mm long (beware P. caffra). Involucral bracts close after flowering. Receptacle flat or slightly raised. Perianth tubes and tips hairless or with a few obscure hairs goto section LEIOCEPHALAE
11. Inflorescences not bowl shaped, not resembling a shaving brush when in bud goto 12
11' Inflorescences bowl-shaped, resembling a shaving brush in the bud and often when fully opened, otherwise resembling primitive inflorescences (see 6-10') goto section LEIOCEPHALAE
12. Inflorescences borne on stems well above ground, or if near ground then stems curve down towards ground after being erect, plants never arising from a rootstock goto 13
12' Inflorescences borne on or near ground level, from prostrate or creeping (often hizomatous) stems, or if inflorescences arising from erect stems then plant with a woody rootstock goto 16
13. Inflorescences less than 60mm long, usually shorter than wide, when inflorescences erect then shorter than 40mm long goto 14
13' Tall erect shrubs (1-4m tall) bearing large, long, chalice-shaped inflorescences (70-160mm long) goto section MILLIFERAE
14. Inflorescences borne on erect stems, or if pendulous then leaves less than 2mm wide goto 15
14' Leaves 5-55 mm wide, inflorescences pendulous, or slightly pendulous, inflorescences distinctively crater-like, usually prostrate or compact shrubs goto section CRATERIFLORAE
15. Inflorescences erect, smaller than 50mm in diameter, buds less than 25mm long, involucral bracts white to pink in colour with a pointed tip, styles 15-17mm long goto section PARVIFLORAE
15' Inflorescences either erect and greater than 50mm in diameter, or pendulous, involucral bracts rounded at the tips, involucral bracts red or yellow in colour goto section PINIFOLIAE
16. Inflorescences without large, brown, papery involucral bracts, a difficult group to categorize further goto 17
16' Basal involucral bracts leaf-like, brown in colour and thin and papery in texture, leaves 150-300mm long, 20-95mm wide goto section OBVALLATA
17. Altitude 0-600m in coastal areas, reaching 1600m in the Cederberg and inland, occurring only west of Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn goto 18
17' Altitude 0-600m east of Plettenberg Bay, above 1000m further west, involucral bracts green tinged with pink or brown, style straight or very slightly curved, rhizomatous with leaves arising in clumps below the inflorescence or secund (EXCEPTION INCLUDED: if several inflorescences borne on tip of an erect stem - P. foliosa), tips of perianth always white goto section CRINITAE
18. Style strongly curved, leaves secund (pointing vertically from a horizontal stem), rhizomatous stems, involucral bracts yellow, tinged with red or green, leaves with flat blades, 2-100mm wide, perianth tips black, brown silver, occasionally white goto section MICROGEANTAE
18' Style weakly curved, leaves arising in tufts beneath the inflorescences, rhizomatous stems (EXCEPTION INCLUDED: if leaves densely covered with horny denticles - P. denticulata), leaves needle-like to narrow, less than 5mm wide (EXCEPTION INCLUDED: if involucral bracts densely covered in brown velvet - P. scabra), perianth tips white or brown goto section SUBACAULES
The Grassveld Proteas are among the most 'primitive' of the proteas found in southern Africa and are best distinguished from the mountain and savannah proteas by their hairless or near hairless involucral bracts, although some species do have hairs. It is difficult to rigorously define the group, but the following characters are helpful:
Young stems hairless. Inflorescences tend to either be small (less than 50 mm long, except P. caffra) or else have a long scaly stalk; Involucral bracts are hairless (except in P. caffra). Florets may either protrude or be contained within the involucral bracts and the perianth may be hairless or hairy, occ. with an apical tuft of hairs. Styles are usually strongly curved. The leaves are hairless.
Protea caffra COMMON PROTEA GEWONE SUIKERBOS
Protea caffra caffra HIGHVELD PROTEA
Protea caffra gazensis MANICA PROTEA
Protea caffra nyasae MALAWI PROTEA
Protea petiolaris elegans SICKLE-LEAF PROTEA
Protea simplex DWARF GRASSVELD PROTEA
Protea parvula DAINTY PROTEA
Protea dracomontana ALPINE PROTEA
Protea nubigena CLOUD PROTEA
The Shaving-brush Proteas are the Cape floral representatives of the section Leiocephalae. All are readily distinguished by resembling shaving brushes when in late bud. Inflorescences are open bowl-shaped and the styles are more conspicuous than the floral bracts. Most species are weakly serotinous and rarely store seeds for more than two flowering seasons.
Protea nitida WAGON PROTEA KAAPWABOOM
Protea inopina LARGE-NUT PROTEA
Protea glabra CLANWILLIAM PROTEA KAAINGSUIKERBOS
Protea rupicola KRANTZ PROTEA
The Mountain Proteas form the group of Proteas which, outside the Cape, tend to have the largest inflorescences (over 70 mm long). Similarly, their leaves are large - 100-200 mm long, either hairy or hairless. The involucral bracts may be either hairless or hairy, and are usually slightly longer than the florets. The perianth is greater than 45 mm long. The involucral bracts tend not to close after flowering to protect the developing fruit: they merely act as bud-scales to protect the developing buds. In three species (P.rubropilosa, P.comptonii, P.curvata) the receptacle has a large dome-shape: these are considered the most primitive of Proteas.
Protea angolensis NORTHERN WOODLAND PROTEA
P. a. var angolensis DWARF NORTHERN WOODLAND
P. a. var divaricata NORTHERN WOODLAND PROTEA
Protea madiensis madiensis TALL WOODLAND PROTEA
Protea rubropilosa TRANSVAAL PROTEA
Protea comptonii SADDLEBACK PROTEA
Protea curvata BARBERTON PROTEA
Protea laetans BLYDE PROTEA
The Savanna Proteas have young stems which are hairy. Inflorescences are medium sized (about 50 mm diam). The involucral bracts are generally silky haired. The perianth is hairy, 20-50 mm long. Styles are greater than 30 mm long, usually straight or very slightly curved, and equal to or longer than the involucral bracts. Both species produce heads in clusters at the ends of branches, but this is a rare feature in P. gaguedi.
The two species in the section are closely related: P. gaguedi is larger in size, leaves and inflorescences. The most reliable character though is that P. gaguedi rapidly looses its hairs on the leaves, whereas P. welwitschii usually retains its brown hairs on the mature leaves. Similarly, P. gaguedi has silver involucral bracts, whereas in P. welwitschii these are brown. All distinctions between the two species appear to break down in Angola.
Protea welwitschii DWARF SAVANNA PROTEA KLEINSUIKERBOS
Protea gaguedi AFRICAN PROTEA GROOTSUIKERBOS
The Moorland Proteas are shrubs which tend to occur in high mountain areas. Their leaves are hairy, often maturing to hairless. The perianth tube is slender and on opening coils up removing the perianth to the base of the styles.
Protea asymmetrica INYANGA PROTEA
Protea wentzeliana WENTZEL'S PROTEA
The red proteas are small prostrate to semi-erect plants. The leaves tend to be narrow, shining and mature to hairless. The heads are conical to turban-shaped after flowering. Involucral bracts are usually red and hairless. The perianth is hairy.
Protea enervis CHIMANIMANI PROTEA
The King Protea is the South African national flower, and is unmistakable with its distinctly stalked leaves. Apart from the large size of the inflorescence, the King Protea is also distinguished by its pink short velvety hairs on the numerous involucral bracts.
Protea cynaroides KING PROTEA GROOTSUIKERBOS
OVAL-LEAF KING PROTEA Leaves oval to round
ELLIPTIC-LEAF KING PROTEA Leaves broad, elliptic.
SMALL-LEAF KING PROTEA Leaves small, elliptic.
The four Snow Proteas are characterized by their rhizomatous or prostrate growth form, involucral bracts covered or edged with thick white woolly hairs, thick white woolly awns, reddish colour to the insides of the involucral bracts, inflorescences borne at ground level, producing a strong yeasty odour, and white haired fruit (seeds) in old inflorescences.
Protea scolopendriifolia HART'S-TONGUE-FERN PROTEA
Protea scabriuscula HOARY PROTEA
Protea cryophila SNOWBALL PROTEA SNEEUBLOM
Protea pruinosa FROSTED PROTEA
The Sugarbushes are characterized by their large chalice-shaped inflorescences with linear-oblong to oblong inner involucral bracts. Other useful features include the hairless styles, involucral bracts and perianth (except for the tip which has a pale beard).
Protea repens COMMON SUGARBUSH SUIKERBOS
Protea aristata LADISMITH SUGARBUSH KLEINDENNESUIKERBOS
Protea lanceolata LANCE-LEAF SUGARBUSH SMALBLAARSUIKERBOS
The Bishop Protea falls into a category of its own. It is easily identified by the ovate-acute, brown, papery leaves which clasp the inflorescence base. As such it appears intermediate between the Bearded Proteas, whose inflorescence it shares, and the Snow Proteas, which have acuminate brown leaves clasping the inflorescences, and also occur at high altitudes. A highly variable species, the bishop protea occurs only at high elevations above 1000 m.
Protea caespitosa BISHOP PROTEA
Riviersonderend: Leaves narrowly oblanceolate, 20-33 mm wide. Plants to 0.3 m tall.
Hottentots: Leaves broadly oblanceolate, 40-70 mm wide.
Cabbage-leaf: Leaves broadly ovate, 70-90 mm wide. Plants to 0.7 m tall.
The Spoon-bract Proteas are characterized by their long spoon- or tongue-shaped inner involucral bracts, with a slightly hairy margin. These equal or exceed the florets in length. The perianths usually have three awns.
Protea roupelliae roupelliae SILVER PROTEA TRANSVAALWABOOM
Protea roupelliae hamiltonii DWARF SILVER PROTEA
Protea eximia BROAD-LEAF PROTEA BREEBLAARSUIKERBOS
Protea compacta BOT-RIVER PROTEA SUIKERKAN
Protea obtusifolia BREDASDORP
Protea susannae STINK-LEAF PROTEA STINKBLAARSUIKERBOS
Protea burchelli BURCHELL'S PROTEA KLEIN SUIKERBOS
Protea longifolia LONG-LEAF PROTEA
Protea pudens BASHFUL PROTEA AARDROOS
The Bearded Proteas are most easily recognized by their conspicuous fringe of long dense hairs (the beard) on incurved involucral bracts. The inner involucral bracts may be spoon-shaped (P. lorifolia). The perianth also has 3 bearded awns which do not collapse into the head but remain erect concealing the styles even after the florets have finished flowering.
Protea lorifolia STRAP-LEAF PROTEA RIEMBLAARSUIKERBOS
Protea laurifolia LAUREL-LEAF PROTEA LOURIERSUIKERBOS
Protea neriifolia OLEANDER-LEAF PROTEA BLOUSUIKERBOS
Protea lepidocarpodendron BLACK-BEARD PROTEA
Protea coronata GREEN PROTEA
Protea speciosa BROWN-BEARD PROTEA
Protea stokoei PINK PROTEA
Protea grandiceps RED PROTEA ROOISUIKERKAN
Protea magnifica QUEEN PROTEA BAARDSUIKERBOS
Protea holosericea SAWEDGE PROTEA
The Dwarf-tufted Proteas are a group of largely lowland proteas. They tend to be more colourful than the other Protea species which bear their flowers near ground level. They are therefore most probably bird-pollinated. They tend to have rough leaves and include all the ground flowering Protea species with straight styles.
Protea scorzonerifolia CHANNEL-LEAF PROTEA
Protea lorea THONG-LEAF PROTEA
Protea aspera ROUGH-LEAF PROTEA
Protea scabra SCABROUS PROTEA
Protea denticulata TOOTH-LEAF PROTEA
Protea piscina VISGAT PROTEA
Protea restionifolia RESTIO-LEAF PROTEA
The White Proteas have hairless styles longer than the inner involucral bracts which have a short silky fringe. The perianth is slender at the base, and on opening it coils up to the base and withdraws from the styles, giving the flowers a neat appearance. The perianth lip is three-toothed and hairless except for the tip.
Protea subvestita LIPPED PROTEA
Protea lacticolor HOTTENTOT PROTEA WITSUIKERBOS
Protea punctata WATER PROTEA WATERWITSUIKERBOS
Protea mundii FOREST PROTEA WITSUIKERBOS
Protea aurea aurea COMMON OVAL-LEAF PROTEA GEELSUIKERKAN
Protea aurea potbergensis POTBERG OVAL-LEAF PROTEA
Protea venusta CASCADE PROTEA
The Eastern Groundproteas form a distinct group together with the Western Groundproteas (Microgeantae). Like them their inflorescences tend to be 20-50 mm long, with sharply incurved 25-35 mm long styles. Leaves tend to be slightly horny or sandpapery to the touch. However their geographical restriction to mountains east of Swellendam, readily prevents confusion with the Western Ground Proteas.
Protea foliosa LEAFY PROTEA
Protea tenax TENACIOUS PROTEA
Protea vogtsiae KOUGA PROTEA
Protea intonsa TUFTED PROTEA
Protea montana SWARTBERG PROTEA
The Western Groundproteas form a distinct group together with the Eastern Groundproteas (Crinitae). Inflorescences tend to be 20-70mm long, slightly larger than the Eastern Groundproteas. They also have sharply incurved styles (25-35 mm). Leaves of the Western Groundproteas also tend to be less horny. Geographically confined to the western plains and mountains west of Swellendam along the coast, although inland extending into the Witteberg Range.
Protea acaulos COMMON GROUND PROTEA AARDROOS
Protea angustata KLEINMOND PROTEA
Protea laevis SMOOTH-LEAF PROTEA
Protea convexa LARGE-LEAF PROTEA
Protea revoluta ROLLED-LEAF PROTEA
The Penduline Proteas tend to be sprawling or rounded plants with inflorescences which face downwards or horizontally on the ends of sinuous branches. Inflorescences are large, 50-130 mm diam. Leaves are hairless. A high altitude group, Penduline Proteas are confined to above 1000 m.
Protea recondita HIDDEN PROTEA
Protea effusa SCARLET PROTEA
Protea sulphurea SULPHUR PROTEA
Protea namaquana KAMIESBERG PROTEA
Protea pendula ARID PROTEA
The Shale Proteas are largely confined to soils derived from the Klipheuwel formation shales. They are characterized by their very small inflorescences (<50 mm diam.) and short styles (<20 mm long). Only two species occur in the section, both with ivory involucral bracts with pink tips. The flowers have a faint sweet scent and are pollinated by wasps.
Protea mucronifolia DAGGER-LEAF PROTEA
Protea odorata SWARTLAND PROTEA
The Rose (or Needle-leaf Proteas) tend to be smaller than other proteas, with inflorescences 25-50 mm long. The involucral bracts are hairless, the inner series being longer than the florets. The leaves are narrowly linear or needle-like.
Protea scolymocephala THISTLE
Protea acuminata BLACK-RIM PROTEA
Protea canaliculata GROOVE-LEAF PROTEA BERGROOSSUIKERBOS
Protea nana MOUNTAIN-ROSE PROTEA SKAAMROOS
Protea witzenbergiana SWAN PROTEA
Protea pityphylla CERES PROTEA SKAAMBLOM
The Rodent Proteas are characterized by having axillary inflorescences, unlike the terminal inflorescences of all other proteas. Inflorescences are produced at ground level, at the bases of branches and stems, and are thus hidden by foliage and branches. Involucral bracts are covered by dark brown or purple hairs which make the flowers inconspicuous, and often give the appearance that flowering is over. Together with the shallow bowl-shaped inflorescences and the yeasty odour, these are adaptations for pollination by rodents, and the need to hide the nectar from birds and bees. Although several species have woody bases, these do not allow the plants to survive fires, unlike the rootstock of other Protea species.
Protea amplexicaulis CLASPING-LEAF PROTEA
Protea cordata HEART-LEAF PROTEA
Protea decurrens LINEAR-LEAF PROTEA
Protea subulifolia AWL-LEAF PROTEA
Protea humiflora PATENT-LEAF PROTEA