Genus of 115 species. The genus is named after the Greek god Proteus, who was able to change his shape at will, an indication of the diversity and variety to be found in the Protea family. It bears red-pink, open flower heads about 5" across for most of the year, but they are at their showiest in spring. PROTEA exima "Ray Flowered Protea" - Flowerhead 5" across rose to red color with spoon shape bracts. Compact shrub to 7' with dense oval leaves. May be grown in alkaline soil. The common names for different proteas promise extravagance, and proteas deliver. Their "flowers" (actually a head or cluster of long, narrow, tubular flowers, often surrounded by colorful petal-like leaves or bracts) come in unbelievable sizes, shapes, textures, and color ranges. These bizarre plants are native to South Africa and Australia. Many people have never seen (or felt) a protea or tried growing one.