The Prototypical Protea

There are stunning flowers, and there are stunning flowers. The protea, also known as the sugarbush, belongs to the latter category. You’ve probably seen these whimsical flowers in stylish bouquets and centerpieces, where their unusual beauty draws you in for a closer look. There are more than 1,500 species of protea, which is native to New Zealand, Australia, South America, and South Africa (stateside, they’re grown in California and Hawaii). King Protea, the largest, is so bulbous, so heavy, it’s a wonder it doesn’t just tip right over.

Kelsey Pasma Photography

Just two or three Pink King Protea transform a bridal bouquet into a work of art. With a head that’s six inches across, the King Protea is South Africa’s signature flower—a fantastical bloom that loves the full sun so much its enormous face seems designed to soak it up.

Tana Helene Photography

Here it is topping an A-frame wedding arch in white. With a flower this statement-making, you need just a touch of greenery alongside. Protea looks right at home in weddings that play with geometric shapes in their decor and design.

Then again, a Red King Protea works beautifully in a lush, free-form bouquet, too. And when pinned to a vintage-style garden arch, in a wedding where the styling is soft and romantic, it brings a lot of presence.

Heather Michelle Photography

We love the unorthodox appeal of the furry, spidery Pincushion Protea, which comes in highly-saturated colors like orange and red. It offers a bouquet tons of texture, but also an exotic feel. This is a flower that seems dreamed up by a Disney Imagineer, managing to be both beautiful and odd.

Mae Stier Photography

Tina Rae Photography

The protea’s strange allure means that even when its petals are enfolded and it presents in bulb form, its still the most intriguing flower in the bunch. Here Pink Mint Protea keeps it close to the vest in a design that’s full of enchanting purple hues. Named after Proteus, Poseidon’s son who was able to transform and disguise himself, “protea” means shape-shifter. It’s the perfect name for this dynamic flower.

Bradley Productions

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