Proteaceous Ornamentals: (Banksia, Leucadendron, Leucospermum and Protea)

Scripta Horticulturae Number 5
Publication date: 
June, 2007
Page count: 
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More than 1400 species have been recognized in the ancient Proteaceae family (Rebelo 1995). Their occurrence is mostly distributed between Australia with about 800 species and Africa with about 400 species with the remainder found in South America, the islands east of New Guinea, and a few species in southeast Asia, New Zealand, and Madagascar. They are broadly referred to as proteas, although we identify specific genera by their Latin names. The subfamily Proteoideae, largely found in Africa, has contributed the genera Protea, Leucadendron, and Leucospermum to floricultural trade, while the Australian Grevilleoideae has contributed Banksia and Grevillea that have found similar use in floriculture and landscaping. Other genera are still emerging in importance (Criley, 2001). Registration of proteaceous ornamentals by the International Protea Register is web-based: Recognizing the importance of these plants, Dr. Jules Janick, editor of the Horticultural Reviews series, enlisted a number of authors to prepare reviews of four genera: Dr. Margaret Sedgley (1998) to cover Banksia, Dr. Richard Criley (1998) to cover Leucospermum, Drs. J. H. Coetzee and Gail Littlejohn (2001) to cover Protea and Drs. Jaacov Ben-Jaacov and Avner Silber (2006) to cover Leucadendron.

Since the literature about these plants is quite diverse and some is published in less-than-widelyread languages such as Afrikans and Hebrew, these authors have brought to the fore syntheses of the taxonomy, culture, breeding, propagation, nutrition, disease and insect pests, and postharvest practices that would otherwise remain out of the grasp of most readers. Obviously, some of the information on economics and areas of production were out-dated at the time of this re-publication, and additional research has been published. Although these reviews summarize many sources of literature for these ornamentals, the Protea Working Group of the International Society for Horticultural Science also has generated significant information from seven symposia and one workshop on proteas, with papers published in the Acta Horticulturae series.(listed below).Moreover, students of Professor Gerard Jacobs of the University of Stellebosch in South Africa have published theses that have added significantly to our knowledge of physiology and management of the South African Protea and Leucospermum, while Dr. Sedgley's students at the University of Adelaide have contributed to our knowledge of Banksia. Research has been conducted in many of the Mediterranean climates in which proteas survive and thrive, most notably South Africa, Zimbabwe, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, southern California, Hawaii, the Canary Islands, Portugal, and France, but the search for "new" floral crops has lead to evaluations in Chile, Costa Rica, Thailand, and interest in other parts of the world has grown as well. Through the joint efforts of the International Protea Association and the International Society for Horticultural Science, it has been possible to gather together the reviews on Banksia, Leucadendron, Leucospermum, and Protea into this volume of Scripta Horticulturae. We thank the publishers of Horticultural Reviews, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., for permission to bring these valuable sources together into one book. May this volume stimulate additional research and understanding of these fascinating plants!

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