One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Of, relating to, or designating the family Proteaceae, which comprises evergreen trees and shrubs native chiefly to southern Africa and Australia, typified by the genus Protea.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in Helen Maria Williams (1761–1827), writer. From scientific Latin Protea, genus name + -aceous, after scientific Latin Proteaceae, family name. Compare earlier scientific Latin Proteae, order name (A. L. de Jussieu Genera Plantarum 78).
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