Proteas grow mainly in South Africa and are known there as "sugarbushes". They were named after Proteus, the ancient Greek shapeshifter god, because there are so many varied types. They are a bit like Euphorbias in that sense. Proteas are a particularly ancient flower; their ancestors flourished in the southern supercontinent of Gondwana, 300 million years ago.
|Protea neriifolia from Wikimedia|
|The seeds need a pre-sowing treatment with a Smoke Germination Stimulant. You can see this clever device in the lower left corner of my instruction sheet. So why am I calling this my "Vanity Protea"? Well, Proteas are threatened in their native habitat. According to National Geographic in 2010: |
"The Cape floristic region was given international recognition as South Africa's sixth UN World Heritage site in June last year. More than 9,000 plant species make up the region, 6,000 of which are found nowhere else on Earth." Ironically, I am attempting to grow a Protea far from its native land at the same time the latest IPCC report is published. Our climate is undergoing drastic change, much of the change is human-induced, and many unique botanical treasures will be leaving us in the coming decades. Will my New World Protea thrive here? Is it a waste of time to grow them ex situ? Would it be better to spend my money on something that will directly curtail climate change where Proteas grow naturally? Should I spend my time lobbying instead of gardening? I don't know. But it's sure got me pensive....