The seeds of many Protea species are retained in the cone on the plant for a long time after the flowerhead has faded. Dispersal by wind may often function better from the plant canopy above than from ground level. Mass dispersal of seed is induced during veld fires when the forceful air updraft from the fire may carry a good percentage of released, yet unharmed seeds to safe locations where germination can occur.
The hairy covering on many Protea seeds assists the wind in executing this function. The seed shape, appendages facilitating wind transportation, size and mass are all features with great diversity across species. Every aspect of this uniqueness has evolved to facilitate survival in a particular plant life cycle, capitalising on select environmental features.
Every one of these adaptations warrants detailed study as part of humanity’s quest to understand. Whether a species or feature will receive this attention, depends on factors such as competition among curiosity levels of capable persons, commercial motivators, resource availability and the mindsets prevailing in society (http://protea.worldonline.co.za).