Welcome to the International Protea Working Group (IPWG). We are a group from across the globe dedicated to understanding the botany, physiology and ecology of the Proteaceae of both South Africa and Australia and using that knowledge to improve commercial production in areas of breeding, cultivation, postharvest, marketing and supply chain management.

About the IPWG

Our research cluster is nearly 30 years old and over that time we have seen introduction of fabulous new cultivars that are now hugely popular worldwide. For growers there is improved reliability of production as we learn more about the cultural requirements such as fertilizers, pest management and irrigation. For consumers, product quality has improved through greater attention to cultivar selection based on postharvest performance as well as form. However, compared with other floriculture crops our research efforts are only touching the tip of the iceberg. There are many research problems which remain unanswered such as postharvest leaf blackening and control of flowering. Demand for Proteaceous flora continues to expand worldwide and the industry has huge potential to grow.

You can help to foster research into the biology and cultivation of Proteaceae by joining our research group, and attending our research symposia. The generous support of members, donors and sponsors makes it possible to fund many worthwhile projects.

We invite you to join us in contributing to greater knowledge and understanding of this unique family of plants.

Membership of the IPWG

Only full members of the ISHS are accepted as members of a Working Group. IPWG members are encouraged to notify the IPA of existing and new publications for the information of their members.

ISHS Rules for Working Groups

Any scientist, educator or researcher interested in the subject area of the Working Group may become a member of the Working Group.
The business meeting of the Working Group is organized at the same time as a Symposium held by the Working Group.


1. The Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of a Working Group are elected at a business meeting of the Working Group and must be individual members of the Society.

2. Only individual members of the Working Group may vote to elect the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson.

3. The term of a Chairperson and Vice Chairperson terminates at the end of the next business meeting of the Working Group where a new Chairperson and Vice Chairperson are elected.

4. The Chairman of the Working Group is to confirm to ISHS that the Working Group still wishes to continue.

Office holders (2017-2020):

Ornamental Section of ISHS Chair: Dr. Margherita Beruto, Germany
IPWG President: Emily Rigby
Secretary: Eugenie-Lien Louw, South Africa


IPWG Symposia are held every two to four years in association with an IPA Conference, with the approval of ISHS.   Papers presented at Symposia are published in peer reviewed conference proceedings, the Acta Horticulturae.  IPWG may hold workshops and meetings in the intervening years, which may run concurrently with IPA functions.

IPA Research Funds

The International Protea Association (IPA) represents cut flower and foliage industries based on the family Proteaceae.This encompasses the genera Adenanthos,Banksia, Conospermum, Grevillea, Hakea, Isopogon, Lamberta, Leucadendron, Leucospermum, Mimetes, Orothamnus, Paranomus, Petrophilia, Protea, Serruria and Telopea.

The Association has a worldwide membership and actively encourages research of the Proteaceae aimed at:

  1. Breeding, selection, evaluation and propagation of superior cultivars
  2. Cultivation such as nutrition and control of flowering time
  3. Postharvest handling
  4. Disease control
  5. Marketing and supply chain management.

Research Scholarships through the Peter Matthews Research foundation are made available to stimulate research in the areas listed above. Calls for applications will be send out prior to a upcoming conference.  A proposal template to be used is provided below.   After proposals have been reviewed by the IPA Board/Council the successful applicant(s) will be notified at the next IPA conference, and funding will be available for projects to start soon after.  One progress report will be required (see progress report template), before the final report is to be submitted after a period of two year following the awarding of the scholarship.

For more information please contact the IPWG Secretary:
Eugenie-Lien Louw – Email:

Peter Mathews research foundation

The Peter Mathews Research Foundation was started in 2004 with a donation of $10,000 from Proteaflora. The late Peter Mathews was a founder member of the International Protea Association in 1981 and his family company, Proteaflora, was instrumental in the development of the Australian Protea Industry.

Proteaflora has a continued involvement in the Australian and International Protea industries, and is now managed by David Mathews and his wife, Ilse. The IPA and IPWG are strategically developing the Peter Mathews Research Foundation to encourage protea enthusiasts and businesses to donate funds for protea research.

For more information please contact IPWG Secretary:
Eugenie-Lien Louw – Email:

Grants Awarded

Reports from IPA research grants will be posted in the members’ only section of the IPA website as they become available. Some of these are published as full scientific journal reports in Acta Horticulturae and other journals.


No grant was awarded.


US$5,000 was awarded to Louisa Blomerus from the Agricultural Research Council, South Africa on the project “Investigating an alternative vegetative rooting protocol for the propagation of difficult-to-root Protea cultivars”.


The available US$6,000 of funding was split between pathology research (50%) and post-harvest research (50%).

  1. Bezuidenhout from the Agricultural Research Council, South Africa – FusariumWilt of Proteaceaein Southern Africa: US$ 3,000
  2. Hoffman & K. Bezuidenhout (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa) – Postharvest control of Botrytis cinereain selected Leucospermum and Leucadendron species: US$ 3,000


Cramer & Hawkins: University of Cape Town, South Africa. Understanding and alleviating phosphorus toxicity in Proteaceae grown on land in conversion from crop farming. US$2,500.00

Emma S. Toste, Uni of La Laguna, Tenerife. Micropropagation of some Leucospermum cultivars: US$2,500.00

Hui Liu, University of Western Australia, Australia: Interspecific hybridisation and phylogenetic relationships in Leucadendron. US$1,000.00


US$5,000 was awarded to Karien Lubbe (M.Sc Agric) for research on Fusarium wilt of Proteaceae in Southern Africa.


Amelia Martyn on the effect of shade on bract browning in waratah (Telopea spp.)

Gaudencia Mahenga


Gail Littlejohn, Gerrit van den Berg and Karien Lubbe on the screening for Elsinoë scab resistant Leucospermum genotypes and progeny seedlings between genotypes with different reactions to controlled infection.


Support research into the Proteaceae. You can make a difference to increasing our understanding about the Proteaceae from South Africa and Australia by making a financial contribution to the IPA Research Foundation. The foundation is crucial in supporting research projects managed by the research group of the IPA, the International Protea Working Group, (IPWG), aimed at improving our understanding of the Proteaceae family grown under cultivation and in the wild. Because we are a volunteer not-for-profit organisation all of your donations are tax deductible and every dollar/euro/rand goes toward research.

Why do we need your support?

The Proteaceae is a unique family which provides fabulous diversity in shape, colour and form to the global ornamental industries. Compared to other horticultural industries the Protea industry is small but has so much potential to provide new and exciting material to the nursery and cut flower industries. We need your support to fund research programs aimed at expanding our knowledge on selection, cultivation and marketing of these fascinating plants. We invite businesses, corporations, growers, plant scientists, home gardeners, plant nurseries, plant societies, amateur botanists and conservationists all with an interest in Proteaceae to make a donation.

Where does your money go?

All money donated to the IPA Research Foundation goes towards research projects. Every two years we call for research applications which are peer reviewed by members of the International Protea Association Council from 16 countries across the globe. Projects are ranked and selected on scientific merit and relevance to the industry. Interim research outcomes and final reports are sent to the IPWG each year and placed on the website for members to view. Researchers are also encouraged to present their results at the IPA Symposia and to publish in peer reviewed journals such as Acta Horticulturae or other internationally recognised journals.

Information on past projects receiving funding from the IPA Research Foundation is offered in the IPWG section.

If you wish to make a donation or sponsor a specific project please contact the Chair IPA Dr Audrey Gerber, or the Chair IPWG Dr Robyn McConchie.

How can you donate?

Membership: Become a member of the IPA and add an extra $10 or $20 to your membership and earmark it for research.

Donations: Make a once-off donation, contribute regularly or when funds are available, to fund research projects chosen by the IPWG. Donations over $2 are generally tax deductible. Gifts of property and land are also tax deductible. The IPA is currently investigating the best strategy to manage donations for research from all of our international friends and colleagues. In Australia the IPA Research Foundation is applying for “Approved Research Institute” status as defined in the Income Tax Assessment Act. In the USA the IPA Research Foundation will be registered as a Charitable Organisation for scientific purposes.

Bequests: Individuals may like to contribute through a bequest. For more information on your research donation please contact: IPA Chair: Ismael Resendiz  – Email: / PWG Secretary: Eugenie-Lien Louw – Email: