Belonging to the Proteaceae family, the Genus Protea is both the botanical name
and the common name of a group of flowering plants. The genus was named in 1736
by Linnaeus (the renowned Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist) after the
Greek god Proteus, who could change his form at will., reflecting the diverse
forms of the Protea.
The Proteaceae family to which Proteas belong is an
ancient one. Its ancestors grew in Gondwanaland, 300 million years ago.
Proteaceae is divided into two subfamilies: the Proteoideae, best represented in
southern Africa, and the Grevilleoideae, concentrated in Australia and South
America and the other smaller segments of Gondwanaland that are now part of
eastern Asia. Africa shares only one genus with Madagascar, whereas South
America and Australia share many common genera — this indicates they separated
from Africa before they separated from each other.