The Protea Family comprises a diverse group of plants which predominantly are found in the Southern Hemisphere. They are generally shrubs or trees and many have colourful clusters of flowers that make them popular garden plants. Most members of the family have specialised clusters of fine roots known as proteoid roots. These are an adaptation for growing in phosphorus-deficient soils.
Worldwide, there are about 80 genera in the family comprising more than 1500 species. In Australia, there are about 45 genera and 800 species found in all states. Australian genera include Banksia, Grevillea, Hakea, Macadamia and Telopea. A common misconception is that several South African plants (Protea, Leucadendron, Leucospermum) are Australian natives. These are often included by some florists in ‘native’ flower arrangements.