Protea cynaroides (King)
Species: P. cynaroides
Binomial name: Protea cynaroides
Common name: King Protea, Giant Protea, Honeypot or King Sugar Bush.
The Protea cynaroides is a flowering plant having the largest flower head in the genus and originates from the southwestern and southern parts of South Africa of the Fynbos region and is the National Flower of South Africa.
It is a woody shrub with thick stems and large dark, oval, green, glossy leaves. They usually obtain one metre in height when mature, but height may vary according to locality and habitat from 0.35 m to 2 metres in height. Protea cynaroides is adapted to survive the fires by its thick underground stem, which contains many dormant buds; these will produce the new growth after the fire. The flower heads vary in size, from about 120 mm to 300 mm in diameter. Large, vigorous plants produce six to ten flower heads in one season, although some exceptional plants can produce up to forty flower heads on one plant. Their so called petals are called brackets.
Protea cynaroides also has several colour forms and horticulturists have recognized 81 garden varieties.
The variety in plant size, habit, flower size and colour of the genus Protea was the reason it was named after the Greek god Proteus, who could change his shape at will. The flower bud of Protea cynaroides looks remarkably like the globe artichoke vegetable with the Latin name of Cynara scolymus and this led the botanist Linnaeus to give it the species name cynaroides.
The flower bud.