King protea Protea cynaroides, from here.

Belongs within: Proteales.
Contains: Persoonioideae, Grevilleoideae, Conosperminae, Petrophile.

The Proteaceae are a family of flowering plants found primarily in southern Africa, Australia and South America, as well as in Asia and various parts of the Pacific. Many species have red or yellow flowers, generally bird-pollinated. The Proteaceae are divided between a number of subfamilies, of which the largest are the primarily African Proteoideae and the mostly Australian Grevilleoideae. For the most part, Proteoideae are characterised by indehiscent fruits and single flowers whereas Grevilleoideae have dehiscent fruits and flowers borne in pairs sharing a single bract. Bellendena montana, a Tasmanian species that has been placed in its own subfamily, bears flowers in a mostly ebracteate raceme and has dry, indehiscent fruits with two wings. The Symphionematoideae, another small group found in south-eastern Australia, have bracteate inflorescences and dry, indehiscent fruits (Weston & Barker 2006).

Within the Proteoideae, the Conospermeae as listed below are supported as a clade by molecular analysis as well as by coherence of fertile anther loculi to the fertile loculi of adjacent anthers. The Proteeae are characterised by floral zygomorphy with the perianth being split into two lobes, the anterior tepal free or basally connate to the others and the three posterior tepals completely connate or almost so (Weston & Barker 2006).

Characters (from Foreman 1995): Trees or shrubs. Stipules absent. Leaves spiral, rarely verticillate or opposite, simple or variously divided, often dimorphous; margin entire or toothed, sometimes spiny. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, ramiflorous or cauliflorous, with flowers in pairs, arranged in raceme- or cone-like inflorescences or in dense heads; peduncles present or absent. Bracts present, mostly small, often early caducous, sometimes large and woody. Flowers regular to very irregular, mostly bisexual, rarely unisexual. Tepals valvate, with expanded limb, often recurved, at first adhering to each other mostly becoming entirely free. Receptacle flat or oblique. Stamens 4, epipetalous; filaments usually relatively short; anthers erect, basifixed, mostly tetrasporangiate, dehiscing by longitudinal slits; connective prolonged or not. Disc mostly present, flat or oblique, annular or more or less horseshoe-shaped or with 4 free or variously fused hypogynous glands. Ovary superior, 1-locular, sessile or stipitate, often oblique. Style more or less expanded in upper part into pollen-presenter. Stigma mostly small, terminal or lateral. Ovules 1 or more, pendulous or laterally attached. Fruit dehiscent or indehiscent: follicle, drupe or small nut. Seeds winged or not; endosperm mostly absent; cotyledons thin or thick and fleshy.

    |--+--Persoonioideae WB06
    |  `--Bellendena [Bellendenoideae] WB06
    |       `--B. montana WB06
    `--+--Grevilleoideae WB06
       `--+--Symphionematoideae WB06
          |    |--Agastachys odorata WB06
          |    `--Symphyonema paludosum H87
          `--Proteoideae WB06
               |  i. s.: Dilobeia WB06
               |         Beaupreopsis paniculata WB06
               |--Eidothea [Eidotheoideae] WB06
               |--+--Cenarrhenes nitida WB06
               |  `--Conospermeae WB06
               |       |--Conosperminae WB06
               |       `--Stirlingia [Stirlingiinae] WB06
               |            |--S. anethifolia GK00
               |            |--S. latifolia RL05
               |            |--S. seselifolia GK00
               |            |--S. simplex OS04
               |            `--S. tenuifolia GK00
               `--+--Franklandia fucifolia WB06, GK00
                  `--+--Beauprea WB06
                     |--Petrophileae WB06
                     |    |--Petrophile WB06
                     |    `--Aulax pallasia WB06
                     `--+--Proteeae WB06
                        |    |--Faurea WB06
                        |    `--Protea WB06
                        |         |--P. cynaroides DE06
                        |         `--P. madiensis PB27
                        `--Leucadendreae WB06
                             |--Isopogon [Isopogoninae] WB06
                             |    |--I. anemonifolius F09
                             |    |--I. attenuatus GK00
                             |    |--I. dubius OS04
                             |    |--I. gardneri G04
                             |    |--I. polycephalus GK00
                             |    |--I. scabriusculus G04
                             |    |    |--I. s. ssp. scabriusculus G04
                             |    |    `--I. s. ssp. stenophyllus G04
                             |    `--I. teretifolius OS04
                             `--+--Adenanthos [Adenanthinae] WB06
                                |    |--A. argyreus G04
                                |    |--A. cygnorum OS04
                                |    `--A. obovatus GK00
                                `--Leucadendrinae WB06
                                     |--Leucadendron WB06
                                     `--+--Serruria WB06
                                        `--+--+--Leucospermum WB06
                                           |  `--+--Diastella WB06
                                           |     `--Orothamnus zeyheri WB06
                                           `--+--+--Vexatorella WB06
                                              |  `--Paranomus WB06
                                              `--+--Sorocephalus WB06
                                                 `--Spatalla WB06

Proteaceae incertae sedis:
  Simsia YY22
  Myricophyllum Saporta 1862 CBH93
  Proteaephyllum reniforme Fontaine 1889 CBH93
  Propylipollis dehaani [=Proteacidites dehaani] CBH93
  Proteacidites CBH93
    |--P. magnus Samoilovitch 1961 YB02
    |--P. palisadus V12
    |--P. retusus Anderson 1960 YB02
    |--P. scaboratus V12
    `--P. thalmannii Anderson 1960 YB02
  Lomatites P92

*Type species of generic name indicated


[CBH93] Collinson, M. E., M. C. Boulter & P. L. Holmes. 1993. Magnoliophyta (‘Angiospermae’). In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 809–841. Chapman & Hall: London.

[DE06] Duncan, G. D., & T. J. Edwards. 2006. Three new species of Lachenalia (Hyacinthaceae: Massonieae) from Western and Northern Cape, South Africa. Bothalia 36 (2): 147–155.

[F09] Fletcher, J. J. 1909. Illustrations of polycotyledony in the genus Persoonia, with some reference to Nuytsia. [N.OO. Proteaceae; Loranthaceae]. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 33: 867–882, pls 34–35.

[G04] Gibson, N. 2004. Flora and vegetation of the Eastern Goldfields Ranges: part 7. Middle and South Ironcap, Digger Rock and Hatter Hill. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 87 (2): 49–62.

[GK00] Gibson, N., & G. J. Keighery. 2000. Flora and vegetation of the Byenup-Muir reserve system, south-west Western Australia. CALMScience 3 (3): 323–402.

[H87] Haviland, E. 1887. Flowering seasons of Australian plants. No. I—List of plants indigenous in the neighbourhood of Sydney, flowering during July. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, series 2, 1 (4): 1049–1051.

[OS04] Obbens, F. J., & L. W. Sage. 2004. Vegetation and flora of a diverse upland remnant of the Western Australian wheatbelt (Nature Reserve A21064). Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 87 (1): 19–28.

[PB27] Pilsbry, H. A., & J. Bequaert. 1927. The aquatic mollusks of the Belgian Congo, with a geographical and ecological account of Congo malacology. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 53 (2): 69–602, pls 10–77.

[P92] Poinar, G. O., Jr. 1992. Life in Amber. Stanford University Press: Stanford.

[RL05] Rafferty, C., & B. B. Lamont. 2005. Selective feeding by macropods on vegetation regenerating following fire. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 88 (4): 155–165.

[V12] Vajda, V. 2012. Fungi, a driving force in normalization of the terrestrial carbon cycle following the end-Cretaceous extinction. In: Talent, J. A. (ed.) Earth and Life: Global biodiversity, extinction intervals and biogeographic perturbations through time pp. 811–817. Springer.

[WB06] Weston, P. H., & N. P. Barker. 2006. A new suprageneric classification of the Proteaceae, with an annotated checklist of genera. Telopea 11 (3): 314–344.

[YY22] Yampolsky, C., & H. Yampolsky. 1922. Distribution of sex forms in the phanerogamic flora. Bibliotheca Genetica 3: 1–62.

[YB02] Yi, S., & D. J. Batten. 2002. Palynology of Upper Cretaceous (uppermost Campanian-Maastrichtian) deposits in the South Yellow Sea Basin, offshore Korea. Cretaceous Research 23: 687–706.

Last updated: 23 March 2021.

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