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Common Name: King Protea
Protea cynaroides is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 2.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
S. Africa - Cape Province.
Moist areas in poor sandy soils at elevations of 100 - 1,000 metres[
]. Plants have also been found growing in rock crevices at elevations up to 1,500 metres[
Requires a very well-drained light soil[
], preferably on the poor side[
], with plenty of humus and sand[
]. Requires a pH of 6.5 or lower[
]. Plants are very difficult to grow[
], they are sensitive to nitrates and phosphates in the soil, these can prove toxic even at moderate levels[
]. Plants require reasonable potassium levels[
] and may also suffer from magnesium deficiency[
]. Requires a position with good air circulation[
], but sheltered from cold winds[
]. Dislikes warm sultry or windless days[
]. Requires full exposure to the sun[
Plants are not very hardy in Britain, but they can be grown outdoors in selected areas. They tolerate slight short-lived frosts once they are established. Plants at Tresco on the Scilly Islands tolerated temperatures down to -9°c over a period of 10 days[
]. Plants generally tolerate temperatures down to about -6°c, although prolonged frosts, or frosts combined with cold dry winds will cause damage[
]. They are best grown in a cool greenhouse, but plants can be placed outdoors in the summer[
Protea cynaroides occurs in fire prone vegetation, where natural fires occur every ten to thirty years[
]. This 'Mediterranean' type of vegetation grows in soils with very low amounts of nutrients. These nutrients are used up by the plants during their lifetime and need to be returned to the soil to provide the food for a new generation of plants[
]. Protea cynaroides is adapted to survive the fires by its thick underground stem, which contains many dormant buds; these will produce the new growth after the fire[
A very ornamental plant[
]. A good bee plant, providing an abundance of nectar[
Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and should be grown in pots until they are planted into their final positions[
The sweet nectar from the flowers is consumed directly[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in individual pots in a greenhouse. See notes above on soil requirements. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving them some protection from the cold for at least their first winter outdoors.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood. mid summer in a frame[
]. Cuttings are made from semi-hardwood, 6-10 cm long, of the current season's growth[
]. The cuttings are dipped for about four seconds in a rooting hormone solution and placed in a growing house with bottom heat (25ºC) and intermittent mist[
]. The rooted cuttings are potted up when the roots are well developed and planted out in the late autumn in South Africa, or in late spring in colder areas[