What you see above is a bouquet of cut proteas.
I’ve followed up below with some close-ups of different varieties. I haven’t seen proteas growing in Haiku where I’m vacationing, but once you start the drive up the slopes of Haleakala, they being to appear and have the capacity to startle. Apparently, the soil and weather at higher altitudes replicates their native habitat in South Africa.
The shrubs (sometimes called trees) grow to be very tall, easily six to eight feet. On the way to Haleakala, I stopped to photograph some especially tall specimens in someone’s front yard and the home owner emerged to proudly show them off and talk proteas with me. He also introduced me to his black turtle, Myrtle, who lives in a small water-lily pond under the protea trees. Then he took out his cutting shears and gave me three different varieties to take home, which I have in a vase in our little cottage. He said they’d last a few weeks and so they have.
Aren’t they amazing? If you can’t resist seeing them with your own eyes, there are lots of places that will ship the cut flowers to the mainland for a tidy sum…