Did You Know

A protea ‘flower’ is actually a whole bunch of flowers. For example, a pincushion is a collection of many small flowers, each with its own ‘pin’. In the centre of a young flower-head the pins are curved over with their tips clasped by four joined petals. The male anthers sit inside the petals and coat the pin head with pollen. When a sugarbird lands on a pincushion, the petals spring apart and the ‘pin’ springs up and dusts the bird with pollen. These ‘pins’ are called pollen presenters. Once the pollen has been removed, the tip of the pollen presenter splits and becomes the sticky female stigma, ready to receive pollen brought from another flower by a bird.

Text adapted from Margo Branch in Exploring Fynbos
Photo: Peter Chadwick