Protea cynaroides (L.) L.
These imposing flowers, natives of southern Africa, are the national flower of South Africa, and the largest of their kind. They are not found in the wild in North America. The genus Protea, which shows a very wide range of shapes and colors, is named for the Greek god Proteus, who could change his shape at will; cynaroides is named for the resemblance of flowerheads to artichokes.
Identification: This woody shrub has thick stems and varies from 14-79" (35-200 cm) in height. Leaves are glossy and dark green. The “petals” surrounding each flowerhead are really bracts, while the interior consists of many small flowers. Each flowerhead is 4½-12" (12-30 cm) in diameter. Flowerheads may be cream-colored, deep crimson, or pink.
Protea cynaroides on the South African National Biodiversity Institute's web site, plantzafrica.com
Protea cynaroides on Wikipedia
Protea cynaroides on Blue Planet Biomes
Protea cynaroides at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Protea cynaroides at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens
Protea cynaroides description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.
Range: Zones 9-12: