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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

Section LEIOCEPHALAE : The Grassveld Proteas

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.

Small trees 3-8m tall with a single main stem (old plants) to an erect multi-stemmed branched shrub 1-3m tall with rootstock (young plants). Branches 4-12 mm diam. Leaves variable, 70-250 mm long, 4-12 mm wide, hairless, Inflorescences globose to ovoid 45-80 mm diam. Involucral bracts pink to carmine to cream, hairless to densely rusty-brown or silvery silky-haired but rapidly shed after flowering, inner series oblong to oblong-spathulate. Style 40-60 mm long.

Protea caffra caffra HIGHVELD PROTEA
Inflorescences 40-70 mm long. Perianth tube 10-14 mm long.

Protea caffra gazensis MANICA PROTEA
Leaves 25-40 mm wide. Inflorescences 60-100 mm long. Perianth tube 16-21 mm long.

Protea caffra nyasae MALAWI PROTEA
Leaves 17-26 mm wide. Inflorescence 50-70 mm long. Perianth tube 14-21 mm long.

Protea petiolaris elegans SICKLE-LEAF PROTEA
A straggling tree to 6 m tall. Leaves drooping, with a 0-20 mm long stalk (petiole). Involucral bracts green to red; outer series with a whitish bloom to hairless. Perianth hairless inside, pink or white.

Woody rootstock and multiple unbranched stems. Branches 2-5 mm diam. Involucral bracts hairless

Protea parvula DAINTY PROTEA
A low sprawling shrub 0.08-0.16 m tall, with a rootstock producing numerous sparsely-branched stems up to 1m long. Stems hairless, 2-4 m diam. Leaves secund. Involucral bracts hairless

Protea dracomontana ALPINE PROTEA
A low shrub, 0.5-1.5 m tall, up to 1m diam., with rarely branched, erect stems arising from a rootstock. Stems stout, 5-10 mm diam. Involucral bracts hairless. Perianth tube 10 mm long, hairless below.

Protea nubigena CLOUD PROTEA
Numerous stems arising from a rootstock. Stems much branched, 2-5 mm diam, leaf scars prominent. Leaves erect, oblanceolate-elliptic, small, 40-60 mm long, 7-13 mm wide. Inflorescence globose, 40-50 mm diam. Involucral bracts hairless. Style 35-40 mm long.

Section LEIOCEPHALAE: The Shaving-brush Proteas

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.

Leaves oblong to elliptic, 80-180 mm long, 15-60 mm wide, hairless, leathery, olive to silvery-glaucous. Style 60-80 mm long.

Protea inopina LARGE-NUT PROTEA
A low multiple-stemmed shrub 0.5-1 m tall with a rootstock. Involucral bracts red-brown velvety-haired. Style 80-90 mm long. Fruit 10-12 mm long, 6-8 mm diam.

A conical shaped shrub up to 5 m tall, with many trunks arising from a large rootstock up to 300 mm diam. Leaves ascending, elliptic to oval, 40-75 mm long, 15-30 mm wide. Involucral bracts hairless to brown downy-haired. Style 40-50 mm long.

Protea rupicola KRANTZ PROTEA
Leaves ascending, linear-spathulate to oblanceolate, 35-60 mm long, 5-20 mm wide, leathery, hairless, occ. glaucous. Involucral bracts reddish brown sparse-haired. Style 45-55 mm long

Section PATENTIFLORAE: The Mountain Proteas

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.

Inflorescences solitary, 70-100 mm long, 90-120 mm diam., stalk 0-15 mm long. Involucral bracts inner series white haired varying from sparse-silky to dense-velvety, margin soft and membranous. Perianth 50-60 mm long, densely white short-haired.

Arising from a rootstock. Leaves 20-60 mm wide. Involucral bracts rapidly maturing to hairless. Perianth tips usually hairy.

A small tree. Leaves 30-100 mm wide. Involucral bracts silky haired. Perianth tips hairless.

Protea madiensis madiensis TALL WOODLAND PROTEA
Leaves variable, lanceolate to elliptic, 100-200 mm long, 30-100 mm wide. Inflorescence 80 mm long, 100-150 mm diam. Perianth 45 mm long, tube 15-20 mm long, tip 10-13 mm long, hairless. Style 50 mm long, flattened and grooved.

Protea rubropilosa TRANSVAAL PROTEA
Involucral bracts outer surface with thick brown dense velvety hairs. Perianth shaggy white-haired apically

Protea comptonii SADDLEBACK PROTEA
A tree, 4-8 m tall, crown rounded and open. Trunk up to 500 mm diam. Bark grey, corky, up to 200 mm thick. Involucral bracts cream, hairless. Style 65-80 mm long.

Leaves narrowly oblong-lanceolate, sickle-shaped, 110-200 mm long, 8-16 mm wide, base tapering. Involucral bracts deep red-black silky/velvety-haired marginally, hairless below. Seed heads shearing off when fruits mature.

Protea laetans BLYDE PROTEA
A slender tree to 5 m tall, with 2-6 stems arising from a rootstock. Involucral bracts inner surface deep carmine, densely covered with silver or brown-red silky hairs. Perianth apex tawny-brown silky-haired.

Section LASIOCEPHALAE: The Savanna Proteas

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.

Stems with dense long white or brown hairs, maturing to glaucous. Leaves densely white or brown haired, maturing to hairless except at bases. Inflorescences in clusters of 3-4. Odour strong, sickly-sweet honey. Involucral bracts sparsely to densely white to brown silky hairs. Perianth 20-50 mm long

Leaves sparsely silky-haired maturing to hairless and glaucous, elliptic to oblong to sickle-shaped, 12-30 mm wide. Inflorescences depressed globose, 50-70 mm diam. Involucral bracts silvery silky-haired, occ. margins rusty-brown. Perianth 35-50 mm long.

Section CRISTATAE: The Moorland Proteas

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
Involucral bracts pale green to pink, densely reddish to pink long-haired, up to 65 mm long, 20 mm wide, shorter than florets. Perianth densely covered with long white hairs, 60-70 mm long.

Protea wentzeliana WENTZEL'S PROTEA
Involucral bracts pale brown with pink tips, silky-haired. Perianth hairless at the base, tufted white hairs at tip.

Section PALUDOSAE: The Red Proteas

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.

Small woody plant with creeping stems from a rootstock. Leaves linear, sickle-shaped, 40-50 mm long, 1-5 mm wide. Inflorescence solitary, terminal, 50 mm long, 30 mm diam, with a 10 mm stalk. Perianth 30 mm long, tube 9 mm, white, tinged pink, base hairless.

Section PROTEA: The King 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.

Hairless stems arising from an underground rootstock. Leaves with a 40-180 mm long stalk, blade round oval or elliptic

OVAL-LEAF KING PROTEA Leaves oval to round

ELLIPTIC-LEAF KING PROTEA Leaves broad, elliptic.

SMALL-LEAF KING PROTEA Leaves small, elliptic.

Section PARACYNAROIDES: The Snow Proteas

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
A rhizomatous shrub, forming clumps 0.5-1.0 m diam., regenerating from subterranean stems. Leaves oblanceolate to spathulate, 20-85 mm wide, 200-600 mm long, with 10-100 mm long stalk, blade flat.

Protea scabriuscula HOARY PROTEA
A prostrate shrub resembling a cushion plant, 0.5-0.7 m diam., up to 0.5 m tall, with a single main stem and stems all above ground, killed by fire. Leaves linear to linear-lanceolate, 150-250 mm long, 5-20 mm wide, margins undulate and horny

Inflorescence shallowly cup-shaped, 120-140 mm long. Involucral bracts lanceolate acuminate; inner series 90-100 mm long, 5-7 mm wide. Styles straight, 65-90 mm long

Protea pruinosa FROSTED PROTEA
A dense prostrate shrub, 0.5-1.5 m diam., up to 0.5 m tall, single main stem with creeping branches. Leaves 200-450 mm long, 40-80 mm wide, stalk 100-200 mm long, blade elliptic to oblanceolate, folded lengthwise. Inflorescence deeply cup-shaped, 100-120 mm long. Involucral bracts inner series linear-lanceolate, 40-45 mm long, 4-6 mm wide. Styles 55-60 mm long.

Section MELLIFERAE: The Sugarbushes

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).

Stems hairless. Leaves upright, linear-spathulate to oblanceolate, hairless. Involucral bracts outer surface gummy. Old inflorescences a brown pointed cone.

Leaves erect, linear, 70-110 mm long, 2-3 mm wide, flattened, hairless, apex with black tip.

Stems hairless. Leaves erect, lanceolate, hairless. Involucral bracts outer series hairless; inner series widely splayed. Old inflorescences a globose cone with a concave receptacle

Section OBVALLATAE: The Bishop Protea

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
A compact, rounded shrub. Inflorescences base clasped by leaves aging to papery brown. Awns 15 mm long, densely woolly, white at base, tawny apically.

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.

Section LIGULATAE: The Spoon-bract Proteas

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
Inflorescence oblong-obconic to goblet shaped. Involucral bracts inner series spathulate-acute

Protea roupelliae hamiltonii DWARF SILVER PROTEA
A low sprawling shrublet

Leaves patent, ovate to oblong, heart-shaped at base, hairless. Involucral bracts inner series widely splayed, oblong to spathulate. Perianth awns prolonged with purple-black velvety hairs.

An erect shrub, 2-3.5 m tall, sparsely branched. Stems maturing to hairless. Leaves ascending, oval to lanceolate, heart-shaped at base, 50-130 mm long, 20-55 mm wide.

Protea obtusifolia BREDASDORP PROTEA
Leaves ascending, oblanceolate elliptic, base tapering, hairless when mature. Involucral bracts outer series edged brown, inner series hairless, shiny.

Leaves with offensive odour. Involucral bracts coated with sticky dark brown varnish

Leaves linear to narrowly oblong, olive green, with black apical mucron. Involucral bracts shiny-greasy; outer series hairless; inner series 1/3 longer than florets, margins densely hairy. Style 55-65 mm long, lower 2/3 hairy.

Protea longifolia LONG-LEAF PROTEA
Leaves ascending, linear to linear-spathulate, Inflorescence with awns forming a pointed black woolly cone. Awns 20-55 mm long, inner much longer, densely black woolly

Stems trailing. Leaves secund, linear to linear spathulate. Inflorescence with awns forming a pointed woolly cone. Awns 10-18 mm long, feathery haired white at base, black at tip. Style 30-45 mm long

Section SPECIOSAE: The Bearded Proteas

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.

Leaves erect, broadly oblanceolate, glaucous, blue-grey, thickened horny margins yellow to red, tapering at base to a 10-15 mm long stalk

Leaves elliptic, tapering to a 3-10 mm long stalk, midrib and horny margins prominent, glaucous. Involucral bracts outer series margin maturing to horny brown recurved and splitting

Leaves ascending oblong with parallel margins not horny, maturing to hairless, green, tapering abruptly at base, 100-180 mm long, 14-30 mm wide. Involucral bracts margins ageing to horny brown, recurved

Protea lepidocarpodendron BLACK-BEARD PROTEA
SWARTBAARD-SUIKERBOS Leaves ascending, narrowly oblong, 80-130 mm long, 10-20 mm wide. Involucral bracts tips curved inwards and upper 20-30 mm covered with dense purple-black beard, short hairs below beard black.

Protea coronata GREEN PROTEA
Involucral bracts bright green. Awns with white woolly-cobwebby hairs. Style hairless.

Protea speciosa BROWN-BEARD PROTEA
BRUINBAARDSUIKERBOS With a rootstock! Leaves obovate to oblanceolate. Involucral bracts tips with 10-15 mm long dense rusty-brown beards

Protea stokoei PINK PROTEA
An erect shrub to 2 m tall. Leaves ascending, obovate to oval. Awns 10-12 mm long, curling outwards, with dense white silky hairs. Style 65-70 mm long, at base minutely haired.

Leaves ascending, oval to obovate. Involucral bracts coral-pink.

Leaves variable, oblong to oblanceolate, 100-210 mm long, 30-60 mm wide, stalk indistinct. Inflorescence with a cone - white but black in centre. Involucral bracts silky haired, recurved, tipped with a dense beard. Awns 3 per floret. Style 60-70 mm long.

Protea holosericea SAWEDGE PROTEA
Involucral bracts tip rounded, margins densely black bearded. Two awns per floret.

Section SUBACAULES: The Dwarf-tufted Proteas

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
A rhizomatous shrublet. Stems with upright stems with tufts of leaves. Leaves needle-shaped to linear-channelled, 150-350 mm long

Leaves needle-like, 150-450 mm long. Inflorescences obconic, 80-120 mm long, 50-80 mm diam. Involucral bracts overlapping, yellow, dense silky haired. Perianth abruptly densely woolly white at tip

Aerial shoots emerging 100-200 mm above soil. Leaves linear, flat, 70-200 mm long, 3-14 mm wide, rough. Inflorescence borne on short aerial shoots, ovoid-oblong. Style 50-70 mm long.

A rhizomatous shrublet. Stems underground, with tufts of leaves at ground level. Inflorescence turban-shaped, 30-50 mm diam, sessile, borne at ground level. Involucral bracts cream, rusty velvety haired. Perianth tips with dense rusty hairs. Style cream, 30-35 mm long

Protea denticulata TOOTH-LEAF PROTEA
Underground rootstock. Stems short, erect. Leaves ascending, hard and wiry with horny denticles, linear-channelled. Involucral bracts dull reddish-carmine, dense velvety haired, chestnut brown margins prominent. Style dull red

Protea piscina VISGAT PROTEA
Leaves needle-channelled to linear and flat, margins horny, 150-300 mm long, 2-5 mm wide. Involucral bracts pale yellow (occ. pink), margins white silky haired. Style 30-35 mm long

Protea restionifolia RESTIO-LEAF PROTEA
Leaves sparsely covered with long white hairs, needle-shaped, 190-300 mm long, 1-2 mm wide. Involucral bracts towards outer tips becoming densely velvety with red to dark brown hairs.

Section EXERTAE: The White Proteas

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
A large upright shrub, killed by fires. Leaves ascending, elliptic to lanceolate, base tapering. Involucral bracts outer series ovate-acute, tips recurved bending outwards. Pollen presenter linear-filiform.

Leaves ascending, lanceolate to ovate, 70-110 mm long, 25-50 mm wide, base heart-shaped, downy-haired maturing to hairless, dark blue-green. Pollen presenter filiform with minute skew knob.

Involucral bracts spreading outwards horizontally at flowering. Pollen presenter uniformly filiform.

Leaves elliptic to elliptic-lanceolate. Inflorescences oblong-obconic. Pollen presenter tip a large apical knob, linear filiform

Leaves oblong to oval, 40-90 mm long, 15-40 mm wide, base heart-shaped. Inflorescence resembling a shuttlecock on opening.

Protea aurea potbergensis POTBERG OVAL-LEAF PROTEA
Leaves ovate, 60-90 mm long, 45-65 mm wide decreasing to 35 mm long and 25 mm wide below inflorescence, base heart-shaped, velvet-haired maturing to hairless, margins densely haired.

Protea venusta CASCADE PROTEA
A prostrate shrub to 0.7 m tall, 3 m diam, with a single main stem Inflorescence honey-odour. Involucral bracts inner series pink tipped, oblong to oblong-spathulate, 40-50 mm long, 8-18 mm wide

Section CRINITAE: The Eastern Groundproteas

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
Leaves lanceolate to elliptic, 90-160 mm long, 15-70 mm wide, flat, margins undulating. Inflorescences upright, hidden by enfolding leaves

A low trailing shrub to 4 m diam. Stems trailing, arising from a rootstock, sparsely branched. Leaves secund, linear to lanceolate to oblanceolate, 80-180 mm long, 2-28 mm wide, midrib prominent. Inflorescences 40-60 mm diam., bowl-shaped.

Protea vogtsiae KOUGA PROTEA
Stems underground, scaled, leaves in terminal tuft. Leaves oblanceolate to spathulate, 120-250 mm long, 8-30 mm wide, glaucous, base tapering. Perianth tips white woolly haired.

Protea intonsa TUFTED PROTEA
A dense dwarf shrub. Stems underground, scaled, leaves in tufts. Leaves needle-like to linear, 150-400 mm long, 2-5 mm wide, hairless. Perianth 25-30 mm long, tips white woolly haired

A low shrub forming dense prostrate mats 0.5-4 m diam. Stems numerous, highly branched. Leaves secund, needle-like to linear-spathulate, 40-100 mm long, 1-4 mm wide. Involucral bracts outermost with leaf-like extension. Perianth tips densely white woolly

Section MICROGEANTAE: The Western Ground Proteas

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.

A low shrub up to 1 m diam., with underground branches and a rootstock. Leaves variable, base tapered gradually or abruptly to a stalk, leathery.

Protea angustata KLEINMOND PROTEA
A tufted mat to 1.5 m diam., with underground branches giving rise to many short, erect leafed stems. Leaves ascending, linear, 120-250 mm long, 2-8 mm wide. Involucral bracts hairless.

Without a rootstock. Stems lying on ground, hairless with scale leaves. Leaves secund, flat, soft,

Protea convexa LARGE-LEAF PROTEA
Stems red-brown sticky varnished, hairless. Leaves secund, obovate, 180-250 mm long, 60-100 mm wide

Protea revoluta ROLLED-LEAF PROTEA
Leaves rolled, linear, 150-250 mm long, 2-3 mm wide, secund, stalk cylindrical, tips curved

Section CRATERIFOLIA: The Penduline Proteas

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
Stems hairless. Leaves ascending, oblanceolate to ovate, 75-160 mm long, 25-55 mm wide, hairless, glaucous grey to purple. Inflorescences enclosed in upper leaves. Involucral bracts hairless, green-yellow.

Protea effusa SCARLET PROTEA
Leaves elliptic, 45-90 mm long, 5-30 mm wide, ascending to secund. Inflorescences erect.

Protea sulphurea SULPHUR PROTEA
Leaves ascending, elliptic to oblanceolate, 10-40 mm long, 4-12 mm wide, green to glaucous. Inflorescence pendulous on short shoots.

Protea namaquana KAMIESBERG PROTEA
Leaves ascending, oblanceolate to linear spathulate, 30-60 mm long, 4-10 mm wide. Inflorescence pendulous.

Protea pendula ARID PROTEA
Leaves ascending, oblanceolate, 30-55 mm long, 5-15 mm wide. Inflorescences hanging from short lateral shoots with leaves pointing backwards.

Section PARVIFLORAE: The Shale Proteas

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
Leaves ascending, lanceolate, 20-40 mm long, 2-4 mm wide, flat, tip a 2 mm long black spine. Inflorescence bell-shaped, 25 mm long, 50 mm diam. Style 15-17 mm long.

Leaves ascending, linear, 25-65 m long, 1.5-2 mm wide, upper surface grooved, tip a bent spine. Inflorescence bell-shaped 20-30 mm diam. Style 15-17 mm long.

Section PINIFOLIA: The Rose Proteas

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
Inflorescence 35-45 mm diam. Involucral bracts creamy-green, hairless, margins fringed with hairs.

Protea acuminata BLACK-RIM PROTEA
Leaves ascending linear to spathulate, 60-120 mm long, 5-8 mm wide, tip mucronate, flat, hairless. Involucral bracts wine-red, margins dark

Leaves channelled on undersurface, tip a recurved black spine, ascending, linear to spathulate, 45-80 mm long.

Stems hairless. Leaves dense, ascending, needle-shaped, 18-30 mm long, 1-1.5 mm wide, bright green, hairless, tip soft brown spined. Inflorescence pendulous.

Protea witzenbergiana SWAN PROTEA
Stems hairy maturing to hairless. Leaves secund, needle-like, 15-55 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, sparsely weak haired maturing to hairless, glaucous, blue-grey to carmine. Involucral bracts outer series tip 5-30 mm long leaf-like.

Stems hairless. Leaves ascending to secund, needle-like, 40-90 mm long, 1 mm wide, slightly grooved, bright green, hairless. Inflorescences cup-shaped, 50-80 mm diam. Involucral bracts outer series tip 15-20 mm long leaf-like.

Section HYPOCEPHALAE: The Rodent Proteas

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
Leaves at right angles to stem, base clasping stem, heart-shaped-elliptic. Inflorescences axillary on lower branches. Involucral bracts purple-black velvety to short haired outside and margins.

Protea cordata HEART-LEAF PROTEA
A low erect shrublet to 0.5 m tall, 0.3 m diam, with a woody base bearing several unbranched stems. Stems hairless, red flushed, up to 500 mm long, with brown lanceolate-acute scale-leaves at base, zig-zagging between leaves. Leaves heart-shaped. Inflorescences axillary, clustered at base of stems. Involucral bracts brown, dry-papery, widely spread,

Protea decurrens LINEAR-LEAF PROTEA
Stems erect, hairless. Leaves ascending, fused to stem at base, linear, 35-90 mm long, 2-5 mm wide, flat to slightly grooved, acute.

Protea subulifolia AWL-LEAF PROTEA
Leaves very variable, needle-like to grooved-round. Involucral bracts soft papery, brown or pink

Protea humiflora PATENT-LEAF PROTEA
Leaves sessile, linear, straight to sickle-shaped, 55-110 mm long, 2-6 mm wide, midrib distinct, apex pointed, hairless, glaucous, flushed dark reddish-brown. Inflorescence axillary. Involucral bracts ivory with pink tips inside, outside densely dark-purple-black downy-velvety haired.

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