Protea

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This article is about the plant genus. For further uses, see Protea (disambiguation).
Protea
Protea repens bush.jpg
The original South African "suikerbossie" (sugarbush) Protea repens
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Proteales
Family: Proteaceae
Subfamily: Proteoideae
Genus: Protea
L.
Species

See text

Protea /ˈprtə/[1] is both the botanical name and the English common name of a genus of South African flowering plants, sometimes also called sugarbushes (Afrikaans: suikerbos).

Etymology[edit]

The genus Protea was named in 1735 by Carl Linnaeus after the Greek god Proteus, who could change his form at will, because they have such a wide variety of forms. Linnaeus's genus was formed by merging a number of genera previously published by Herman Boerhaave, although precisely which of Boerhaave's genera were included in Linnaeus's Protea varied with each of Linnaeus's publications.

Taxonomy[edit]

The Proteaceae family to which proteas belong is an ancient one. Its ancestors grew in Gondwana, 300 million years ago. Proteaceae is divided into two subfamilies: the Proteoideae, best represented in southern Africa, and the Grevilleoideae, concentrated in Australia and South America and the other smaller segments of Gondwana that are now part of eastern Asia. Africa shares only one genus with Madagascar, whereas South America and Australia share many common genera — this indicates they separated from Africa before they separated from each other.

Distribution[edit]

Most protea occur south of the Limpopo River. However, Protea kilimanjaro is found in the chaparral zone of Mount Kenya National Park. 92% of the species occur only in the Cape Floristic Region, a narrow belt of mountainous coastal land from Clanwilliam to Grahamstown, South Africa. The extraordinary richness and diversity of species characteristic of the Cape Flora is thought to be caused in part by the diverse landscape where populations can become isolated from each other and in time develop into separate species.

Botanical history[edit]

Proteas attracted the attention of botanists visiting the Cape of Good Hope in the 17th century. Many species were introduced to Europe in the 18th century, enjoying a unique popularity at the time amongst botanists.

Classification[edit]

Within the huge family Proteaceae, they are a member of the subfamily Proteoideae, which has Southern African and Australian members.

Species[edit]

Protea caffra, the Common protea

(listed by section: a sect. has a name in two parts, consisting of the genus name and an epithet).

Dried head of Protea madiensis, the Tall woodland sugarbush, shedding mature fruit

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Protea". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. 
    Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607

External links[edit]