We study protected nodes in $m-$ary search trees, by putting them in context of generalized Pólya urns. We show that the number of two-protected nodes (the nodes that are neither leaves nor parents of leaves) in a random ternary search tree is asymptotically normal. The methods apply in principle to $m-$ary search trees with larger $m$ as well, although the size of the matrices used in the calculations grow rapidly with $m$; we conjecture that the method yields an asymptotically normal distribution for all $m \leq 26$.
The one-protected nodes, and their complement, i.e., the leaves, are easier to analyze. By using a simpler urn (that is similar to the one that has earlier been used to study the total number of nodes in $m-$ary search trees), we prove normal limit laws for the number of one-protected nodes and the number of leaves for all $m \leq 26$.
"Asymptotic distribution of two-protected nodes in ternary search trees." Electron. J. Probab. 20 1 - 20, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1214/EJP.v20-3577