Proteaceae confused me at first, because some are from Australia (Grevillea, Adenanthos, Banksia), and some are from South Africa (Protea, Leucospernum, Leucadendron), two places separated by some six thousand miles (10,000+ km).
Once upon a time there was a super-continent named Gondwana, and Proteaceae were clustered together on an area of Gondwana land where the soil was, honestly, rather terrible. Then Gondwana split, and drifted 6,000 miles apart, like a Hollywood power couple, and so did the Proteaceae. This happened about ninety million years ago, about the time Mitch McConnell was elected to the US Senate and Jerry Brown first became Governor of California.
As a result, today some gardeners (me) are unclear about which Proteaceae are from South Africa, and which are from Australia, and Proteaceae have a sensitivity to phosphorus, because they evolved to be ruthless in extracting every bit of soil phosphorus they can get their greedy little cluster roots on--that horrible Gondwana soil they grew up on lacked phosphorus.
Leucadendron salignum 'Blush' (South Africa):
Grevillea 'Moonlight' (Australia):
Another point of confusion for many (me) is that Leuc-thing. There are Leucospermums and Leucadendrons. Leucospermums have the fancy flowers. Leucadendrons have the fabulous foliage.
Fancy Leucospermum flower:
Grevilleas and Banksias are easier to keep separate. Grevilleas with their weirdly wonderful flowers are the ones the hummingbirds love, while Banksias with their wonderfully weird flowers are the ones--uh--the hummingbirds love.
Protea 'Pink Ice', a new baby, on sale. 7'x6' eventually if it likes the spot I gave it.
This post is really just to clarify for myself a recent interest in Proteaceae. Why am I reluctant to fully embrace California native plants? If something like 'Pink Ice' was a California native, I would certainly grow it. It has nothing to do with where it is from. I don't grow roses because they are from Europe/China, or Ceanothus because it is native. I grow them because I like them. My tastes wander around over time, but so do continents.
Leucadendron 'Little Bit':
And while I have never been there, am not being compensated for this, don't know anyone there, and don't know anything about it, I'm told the Australian Plant Nursery in Casitas Springs near Ventura is having a sale this weekend, April 25-26th. See their website for more information, if you are looking to go Pro yourself.