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King protea

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King protea
Large King Protea.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Protea cynaroides

The King Protea is South Africa's national flower. There are about 2000 species in the Protea family that consist of plants as well as shrubs. King Protea was named by Botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1735. He named the flower after the Greek god Proteus because he was known to change his ability and will [2].King Protea's are most often found in South Africa along the cape or growing around mountain ranges. Out of 114 species of Protea's found in Africa, 82 species are found near the South.King Protea's are also found in Australia, South America, Madagascar, New Zealand, and Asia[3]. Out of the thousands of Protea species, about 120 of them are considered endangered [4].

Body Design

A closer look at the King Protea.

The King Protea flower can grow to twelve inches across. On the outside, it has very stiff, pointy petals that give the flower a cup like shape. Usually the bottom half of the flower is a yellow or cream color. On the top of the King the color turns a pink or red color. The inside of the flower has white stamen that takes up around one or two inches that bend towards the center. The leaves are very flat but are thick and round. They grow along the many stems of the flower. The shrub on the King Protea is very woody. It has thick stems that lead up to the colorful flower. The leaves on the King Protea are very large and help to prevent loss of moisture. It also has a large taproot that digs into the soil to to reach the moisture that is underground. Underneath the large roots, are small roots called rootlets. These rootlets help to enhance the solubilisation of nutrients[5].

Life Cycle

In order for King Protea's to be comfortable in their environment, they need bushfires. Bushfires are help the King Protea by letting the seeds disperse to reproduce and regenerate. There are two types of Protea's according to their response to fire: re-seeders are killed by fire while the fire releases their seed bank. Resprouters can survive fire and resprout from a lignotuber, or epicormic buds. King Protea's are fast sprouts and can form a new stem from buds after it has been through a fire [6].

Ecology

A full body picture of the King Protea.

King Protea's can grow in cold climates as well as hot climates. They need lots of water,but the bushes do not need as much water as the flower. It is more likely to grow in acid, sandy soil. It can grow better if is has some moss around it to give it more balance of polystyrene or perlite. King Protea's can be found all over the world. It is most famous in South Africa and Hawaii. It is the national flower of South Africa. The most common place for King Protea's to be found are in the Cape of Africa on the coast and mountain range. King Protea's can grow in many different kinds of soils. They most often grow in the mountain areas. King Protea's also have the ability to grow in a clay type of soil. On the coastal regions, King Protea's can also grow in some sandy areas. Protea's can survive many harsh climates. They can survive hot climates as well as temperatures as low as 0 degrees celsius. Protea's are more likely to survive where there is a large amount of rainfall. Where the rain activity is low, Protea's migrate to places such as gullies, valleys, and slopes with moisture. King Protea's often grow close to eachother. They are very social plants and live in large, close communities. The plants protect one another from winds and other harsh climates. They can form a cover to protect their soil from evaporation. The King Protea is fed by nectarivorous, sunbirds, and sugarbirds. Insects, mostly beetles and bees, are very attracted to the King Protea[7].

Reproduction

King Protea seeds cannot germinate unless they have water that they can absorb, exposure to smoke, or low soil temperatures. They are exposed to chemicals and smoke to release seeds from their dormant stage [8]. King Protea's are self pollinating plants. They have female and male reproductive systems on the same flower. The flower remains closed until it is time for it to reproduce. When reproduction season is in session, the flower opens up only to insects or animals who want to get into the flower. When the flower is opened, the female part of the flower will raise the stigma straight up. When the stigma(female organs) is straight, it will be able to collect pollen. As it collects pollen the stamens (male organs) picks up the pollen and reproduces with the stigma [9].

References