Original Research

Domestication of fynbos Proteaceae as a floricultural crop

G. J. Brits, G. Jacobs, M. M. Vogts
Bothalia | Vol 14, No 3/4 | a1222 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v14i3/4.1222 | © 1983 G. J. Brits, G. Jacobs, M. M. Vogts | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 November 1983 | Published: 06 November 1983

About the author(s)

G. J. Brits, Protea Research Unit, Tygerhoek Experimental Farm., South Africa
G. Jacobs,, South Africa
M. M. Vogts,, South Africa

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Abstract

Domestication of a South African group of Proteaceae, the proteas, began with their cultivation as exotics in Europe. A growing local interest in their cultivation climaxed in the publication of a popular handbook in 1958. Commercial interest in cultivation and seed sources was stimulated and led to a botanical and horticultural survey of useful species throughout their distribution range in the fynbos. Information pamphlets on cultivation requirements and seed were eventually supplied to the public as an official service. Up to 1970 cut-flowers were harvested in limited quantities, mainly from the western Cape folded mountains, and sold on the European markets. During the last decade, the export trade in fresh Proteaceae flowers has become a significant factor in the national economy. However, the original system of harvesting from the natural habitat has caused serious marketing problems, for instance, poor cut-flower quality and an erratic supply of many species. Increased exploitation has also led to unprecedented disruptive pressure on the fynbos biome system, particularly on the Proteaceae-component. It is clear that the scientific cultivation of the protea family as a floricultural crop is necessary' for its sustained growth as an economic factor, as well as for its natural conservation. The present paper gives an overview of the developments that led to the rise of the fynbos Proteaceae as a commercially cultivated crop in South Africa.


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