King Protea (Protea cynaroides) flowers

King Protea (Protea cynaroides) flowers

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Credit: DR JEREMY BURGESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Flowers of the King Protea (Protea cynaroides), a native of South Africa, and the national flower of South Africa. The flowers are at different stages of development, with an opening bud to right, and a flower post pollination below. The "flower" is a complex inflorescence, consisting of a ring of stamens surrounding a central boss comprised of stigmas. The "petals" (scarlet) are in fact floral bracts. P. cynaroides is adapted to fire by the development of a swollen underground stem called a lignotuber, a structure shared with many eucalyptus species. Following a catastrophic fire event, the lignotuber develops new shoots which grow to produce a replacement plant. Protea flowers are nectar-rich and are pollinated by birds in their native habitat. Photographed in Victoria, Australia, where the flowers are commonly visited by bees.

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Keywords: australia, australian, biological, biology, bird pollination, botanical, botany, bracts, flora, inflorescence, king protea, lignotuber, national flower, nature, nectar, no-one, nobody, plant, protea cynaroides

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