The leaf shape of Protea cordata gave the plant its name: cordata means heart-shaped in Latin. The heart-shaped leaves are sessile, i.e. without petioles (stalks). The leaves are glabrous (hairless) and glaucous (blue-green) to greyish in colour.
Young leaves can here be seen to have a pinkish tint, especially towards the margins. Pale yellow or reddish veins radiate out from the base without visibly reaching the margins. Leaves may be 16 cm wide and 14 cm long. The leaf base may be elaborately lobed past the stem on mature leaves. The rounded, entire margins show an inconspicuous tip. Leaves are spaced singly on the erect or sometimes drooping stems, flushed with red or pale yellow to cream in colour (Rourke, 1980).