The king protea (Protea cynaroides) is a flowering plant. It is a distinctive member of Protea, having the largest flower head in the genus. The species is also known as giant protea, honeypot or king sugar bush. It is widely distributed in the southwestern and southern parts of South Africa in the fynbos region.
The king protea has several colour forms and horticulturists have recognized 81 garden varieties, some of which have injudiciously been planted in its natural range. In some varieties the pink of the flower and red borders of leaves are replaced by a creamy yellow. This unusual flower has a long vase life in flower arrangements, and makes for an excellent dried flower.
Protea cynaroides is adapted to survive wildfires by its thick underground stem, which contains many dormant buds; these will produce the new growth after the fire.
The flowers are fed at by a range of nectarivorous birds, mainly sunbirds and sugarbirds, including the orange-breasted sunbird (Anthobaphes violacea), southern double-collared sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus), malachite sunbird (Nectarinia famosa), and the Cape sugarbird (Promerops cafer). In order to reach the nectar, the bird must push its bill into the inflorescence. As it does so, its bill and face gets brushed with pollen, thereby allowing for possible pollination.
Like many other Protea species, P. cynaroides is adapted to an environment in which bushfires are essential for reproduction and regeneration. Most Protea species can be placed in one of two broad groups according to their response to fire: reseeders are killed by fire, but fire also triggers the release of their canopy seed bank, thus promoting recruitment of the next generation; resprouters survive fire, resprouting from a lignotuber or, more rarely, epicormic buds protected by thick bark. P. cynaroides is a resprouter as it shoots up new stems from buds in its thick underground stem after a fire. Wikipedia