Proteas are hundreds of million years old, and grow in South Africa as well as in South America, Madagascar, and south-east Asia. In South Africa the bulk of proteas grow in the south-western Cape, and are part of the Fynbos Floral kingdom.
Various species of Protea grow in the Cape, including the King Protea (the National flower of South Africa), the Cone Bush, the Pin Cushion, the Blushing Bride, and the Sugar Bush.
Proteas attract wildlife to fynbos: sunbirds and sugarbirds feed off their nectar. Baboons eat their seeds. Caterpillars eat their leaves. Flycatchers, dragonflies and shrikes use them as perches.
Sugar was once made from the nectar of proteas, and ink was made from their leaves. Tannins extracted from their barks were used to cure leather.
An excellent place to see the various protea species is at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Our Labotessa hosts will provide directions to our guests.
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