The genus Protea was named in 1735 after the Greek God, Proteus, who could change his form at will. This family of flowers offers diversity in form, size, colors and especially texture. Many of the species were discovered in the 1600’s by botanists at Cape of Good Hope and were introduced to Europe in the 1700’s. Collectors were probably responsible for introducing Proteas to the Hawaiian Islands. The genus and its many species have naturalized beautifully, thriving in the cooler and drier air in “Upcountry Maui” on the western slope of Haleakala volcano, on the Island of Maui.
There are over 1400 varieties worldwide. The University of Hawaii Agricultural Station in Kula, Maui is known for decades of research in hybridizing new varieties of Leurospermum and Proteas.