Monday’s Macro: Protea cynaroides

King protea (Protea cynaroides)
Prized as a garden flower, it is even more exciting to find the magnificent King protea growing in the wild. After fire in this area, newly established colonies are flourishing. The large showy flowerheads vary in size from 120mm to 300mm in diameter. They attract Scarab and Protea beetles as well as bees and are pollinated by nectar feeding birds such as the Cape Sugarbirds and Sunbirds. As they feed on the nectar in the flowers, their heads touch the pollen presenters and transfer pollen from flower to flower.

10 thoughts on “Monday’s Macro: Protea cynaroides

    1. Well spotted, Mary! It’s so similar in shape (although originating from different plant families)that 18th C botanist, Carl Linnaeus, bestowed it’s name cynaroides after the artichoke – Cyanara. Had originally thought to post images of the two side by side as a comparison. Love their showy form, especially the overlapping involucral bracts – like structural vases – to show off the flower heads.
      The Protea family stem back to an ancient lineage – 140 million years to before the split in Gondwanaland. We’re fortunate to have 115 different species here in the Western Cape. I believe the globe artichoke comes from the daisy family, the Asteraceae.

      1. Oh, wow – thanks for this explanation! I don’t know much about plant families, but the interior structure of this flower looked so like an artichoke (and a thistle too) that I wondered. Then when I studied the outer leaves, I dared to ask the question because of their pointed shape.
        What a gorgeous flower!
        (In doing followup study based on your comment – especially the term “Asteraceae”, it’s now easy for me to see the progression of familial traits from a common daisy to an aster to a Batchelor button to a thistle to an artichoke! Prior to this study, I could not imagine the artichoke as part of the Asteraceae (or Daisy) family! So thanks for this botany lesson!)

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