Yet another flower I didn’t really expect to see in Tasmania, but there it is, proud and tall, and clearly flourishing, in the garden of our Airbnb.
Plants that you find in Airbnb gardens tend to be of the little-to-no-maintenance variety. And judging from the rest of the garden, I’d say this cynaroides must be a no-maintenance-at-all variety.
Dr. Wiki suggests that this flowering plant is also called the king protea, giant protea, or king sugar bush - partly due, no doubt, to its flower head being the largest of the genus.
It’s distributed across the southwestern and southern parts of South Africa - which fits in much more with my uneducated guess about the sort of climate this protea might come from and flourish in.
Ok, so just like my idea of Tasmania’s suitability as a protea nurturer is somewhat misguided, so too must be my idea of South Africa’s proximity to the equator.
But when I seek a second opinion from Dr Google, s/he tells me that while South Africa’s latitude is in the 30-31*S bracket, Tasmania’s is much further away from the Equator, way down in the 41-42*S bracket.
Which sort of fits with my original impressions: South Africa as hotter and drier; Tasmania as cooler and wetter.
Yet the mighty king protea has completely acclimatised to those cooler climes, and now thrives - seemingly with consummate ease - in the climate of Tasmania, which is essentially the last land stop south before hitting Antarctica.
Rather than donning a lab coat and digging down into the hard science, trying to fully understand how this can be - or even pretending that I do - I prefer to accept and embrace this as yet another example of Nature’s wondrous mysteries. And mysterious wonders.
That might be seen as a bit of a cop out by the botanic enthusiasts amongst us - and I can certainly understand where they’re coming from. But I would point out in my defence that I’m on holidays, dammit, which means I can afford to, and be perfectly comfortable with, not knowing the excruciating details of every answer to every question I happen to ask myself.
Closure be damned, certainty be damned - and long live the mysteries of unpredictability.