Protea, named after Proteus the ancient Greek sea-god who was famed for his ability to change shape, a reference to the diversity within the family. Trees or shrubs with ‘oak grain’ in the wood; leaves alternate, simple or compound, entire or deeply divided, often polymorphic, leathery. Flowers regular or irregular, 4-merous, stamens usually adnate to perianth. Carpel 1, gynophore common, pollen presenter common; fruit dehiscent or indehiscent, seeds in dehiscent fruits often winged.