I got to take these photos in mid-2015, thanks to Luc Morrissette at "Alpine Flowers & Gifts" in Elliot Lake.
Wikipedia says that "Protea" is both the botanical and the English common name of a genus of flowering plants named after the Greek god Proteus, who could change his form at will. They have a diverse array of colors, shapes, textures and sizes - mine are from these 3 genera.
A Brief anatomy lesson
What we're used to seeing in a flower
The flower's sepals protect the petals until they open which in turn offer, and yet shield, the set of internal organs. Photo courtesy of 123RF.COM.
What we don't expect
- The Protea flower is not a single flower, but a flower-head or inflorescence, made up of many individual flowers grouped together on a rounded base or receptacle. What look like the 'petals' of the protea 'flower' are modified leaves known as floral bracts. Inside the cup of bracts there are many long narrow flowers massed together in the centre.
- Leucospermums and Banksias have a single layer of bracts at the bottom while the Proteas have two layers - small outer ones at the bottom and long inner ones from the bottom to the side edge of the flower-head.
- Most surfaces are covered with hairs that help prevent evaporation, provide an insulating layer by trapping heat close to the leaf and can be discouraging to leaf eating animals.
This is a Queen Protea side view and shows the leaves on the outside, the outer bracts at the bottom and the inner bracts above them.
The red and yellow were my introduction to the family and this type. I'd never seen a flower like them before so I was immediately fascinated and intrigued by their form and colour.
They're evergreen shrubs that grow to about 5 feet tall and the flowers are about 4" across.