Protea Confusion – Top 3 Questions

1. I’m confused, aren’t all of these flowers called Protea?
Why is there a separate “Protea” category?

You’re not the first to be confused. Here’s our best explanation:
Proteaceae is the name of the FAMILY of all these beautiful exotic flowers. People will commonly refer to the FAMILY Proteaceae with the shortened name “Protea.” They are not really wrong, they are just speaking colloquially or commonly – as Protea is an abbreviated way of saying Proteaceae. Even our name, Booth Farms Protea, technically should be Booth Farms Proteaceae.

What makes it especially confusing is that there is an actual GENUS within the Proteaceae family that is called Protea. Probably the most well-known Genus of Proteaceae is Protea, followed by Leucospermum (AKA Pincushions), Leucadendrons, and Banksia. This is why it gets confusing. People sometimes refer to all of these as “Protea.” Technically that is incorrect, they are collectively Proteaceae, but apparently if feels stilted or pretentious to always say “Proteaceae,” so people tend to shorten it to Protea. Sorry. This practice is not likely to stop, so apparently we just need to get used to it!

The chart below helps illustrate how the flowers are grouped.


2. To-MAY-to / To-MAH-to – How to you pronounce Protea?

The growers in California typically pronounce it “PROH-tee-uh” with the emphasis on the first syllable, but I have heard some folks from other countries say “Pro-TEE-uh, with emphasis on the second syllable. The flowers were originally named after the Greek God Proteus. So take it from there. Would you say PRO-tee-us, or Pro-TEE-us? And there you have it. Proteus, you may remember, was the shape-shifting Greek God, who could change his appearance at will. This is an appropriate name for these flowers since the family is known for its astonishing variety and diversity of flowers and leaves.

3. How do I get my own Protea plant? All the growers just sell cut stems. Why is it so hard to get my own potted Protea plant?

It’s true. The Protea plants are hard to come by because they are rare and slow growing. Even the growers who propagate tend to want the plants for their own use. There are a few of us willing to share. If you want large quantities, like 500 – 1000 (or more) we can refer you to a wholesale partner. If you want smaller quantities, like  20 – 100 potted plants, we may be able to help you. If you want one or two plants you are probably out of luck, as most of the growers are just too busy and do not have sales staff to show you around and answer questions, just to sell one or two plants.

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