The Proteaceae are an ancient family, probably one of the oldest groups of flowering plants. Scientific probes into the early history of plant life have shown that the ancestors of today’s Protea were present 300 million years ago. Proteaceae are best represented in South Africa along the south and south western coastal mountain ranges. The other sub-family is located along the south and south western coastal areas of Australia.
No genus is naturally common to both South Africa and Australia. There are some 329 known species of Protea in South Africa. The South African species consist of Protea, Leucadendron and Leucospermum for the most part, while the Australian species are Banksia, Grevillea and Telopea. In these areas the flowers are mostly harvested in the wild, though in later years many flower plantations have sprung up for the commercial growing of the flowers.
Not all species are commercially viable for one reason or the other. These beautiful flowers were first grown in the United States in San Diego North County, as well as some ranches in the Santa Barbara area about forty years ago. They were later grown in Hawaii. The climate and soil in these places most nearly duplicates their natural habitat.
Most growers in this area are small farmers with 5 acres or less, there are also several large ranches. These beautiful flowers are shipped from here all over the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe.
Did you know that Protea are drought friendly and water-wise?