If you do a Google image search for “proteas,” you’ll find a vast array of pictures of amazing flowers – and a picture of a cricket team. That’s how deeply the protea is engrained in South Africa’s consciousness: The hugely popular cricket team is called “the Proteas”!
Proteas the flowers, meanwhile, are part of the plant family called Proteaceae, a name the famed botanist Carl Linnaeus bestowed upon the flowers because, like the shape-shifting Proteus of Greek mythology, proteas are endlessly diverse.
The most famous is the king protea, but there’s also the Ladismith protea, the giant wooly beard protea, the Bot River protea…. The list goes on. There are said to be some seventy different species of protea found native to South Africa. One thing they have in common: They are not demure!
Proteas grow in many parts of the world now, thanks to human intervention. In Hawaii, growing them for export is pretty big business. That’s given some people the impression proteas are a “tropical” flower. But that’s not their native habitat; the truth is, proteas are part of what’s known as “Antarctic flora,” which isn’t the flora of the current Antarctica (of which there is little!), but of Gondwana, the southern supercontinent of hundreds of millions of years ago that broke apart and left its mark on various areas of the Southern Hemisphere, including New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, southern South America and South Africa.
In South Africa, proteas thrive in a particular zone called the Cape Floristic Region – one of six floral kingdoms in the world, and the one richest in higher plant species – much of which historically is covered with the shrubby fynbos (fane-boss) heathland. A generally Mediterranean climate, with dry summers, the fynbos relies on periodic wildfires to regenerate its biodiversity.
As striking as these flowers are, “protea” was a natural choice for a wine brand that emphasizes beauty, in its wines and in its designer-inspired bottles.
Want to see more stunning proteas? Check out this Pinterest page!