Contrasting fresh and dry Protea aurea subsp. aurea flowerheads are juxtaposed on their separate stem-tips, at the same height but not the same age.
In the old head all the bracts are brown, in the young one they shade into brown from about the third row from the top. Lower rows of the neatly shaped, overlapping bracts are progressively shorter than the tall inner ones.
Leaves are present right up to the flowerhead in both cases (Manning, 2009; Coates Palgrave, 2002; Rourke, 1980; iNaturalist).