The Protea family (Proteaceae) has always attracted attention. The first known specimen was described by Carolus Clusius, a Flemish Botanist, who in 1597 described the Oleander-leaf Protea (Protea neriifolia) as “an elegant thistle”. It was mistakenly assumed to come from the north-eastern coast of Madagascar, however, today we know that this specimen originated from the Cape Region. Many Cape Proteaceae have now been carefully described; the species number stands around 330.
The fact that Cape Proteaceae are well-studied, both taxonomically and ecologically, has stimulated much local and international research interest and collaboration. From an ecological perspective, we are fascinated by the ability of these plants to persist on remote mountain peaks, to re-establish new seedlings after seemingly catastrophic fires and their ability to persist in nutrient poor environments – often scorched by summer heat and seasonal drought.
Below are a few of my study species (Proteaceae; including members of the genera Protea and Leucadendron). *Why not also take a look on ISpot (a free online community for sharing nature)? Website here.