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Port St John's Creeper

Taxonomy
Scientific Name
Podranea ricasoliana (Tanfani) Sprague
Higher Classification
Dicotyledons
Family
BIGNONIACEAE
Synonyms
Pandorea ricasoliana (Tanfani) Baill., Tecoma ricasoliana Tanfani
Common Names
Port St John's Creeper (e), St. Johns Tecoma (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable D2
Assessment Date
2007/10/24
Assessor(s)
L. von Staden
Justification
A highly localized endemic found in a restricted habitat (forest margins), AOO <10 km². Potentially threatened by habitat degradation from subsistence farming, wood harvesting, alien plant invasion and a deleterious fire regime. It is locally common, but not formally protected in a reserve.
Distribution
Endemism
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape
Range
Port St. Johns.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Terrestrial
Major habitats
Scarp Forest
Description
Coastal forest margins on shales.
Threats
This species is potentially threatened by habitat degradation as a result of clearing of forests for subsistence farming, wood harvesting, alien invasive encroachment, and forest margins receding due to too frequent and intense fires. This species has weedy tendencies (listed in the Global Compendium of Weeds) and may be able to cope with disturbance.
Population
Population trend
Stable
Conservation
Not recorded from any formally protected area.
Notes
The Port St. Johns Creeper, as Podranea ricasoliana is commonly known, is a popular garden plant across the world that has been in cultivation in Europe since the 1870s (Pooley 1998). It is named after General Vincenzo Ricasoli, in whose garden near Port Ercola, Italy the plant was cultivated. The description, published in 1887, mentioned that the plant was grown from seed collected in Brazil. However, this was probably a mistake, as P. ricasoliana was well established in cultivation in Europe by then, after material was sent from Port St Johns in 1867 to Kew as well as the La Mortala garden in Italy (Verdoorn 1961). There are only two species of Podranea, P. ricasoliana and P. brycei, the Zimbabwe Creeper which has been collected from the ruins of Great Zimbabwe near Musvingo in Zimbabwe, and from the surroundings of Nova Sofala, on the Mozambique coast south of Beira. The two species are so similar that it is virtually impossible to tell them apart when grown side by side, and in some parts of the world P. ricasoliana is not recognised as a separate taxon. Interestingly, both these species are known from isolated localities near ancient slave trading sites. It may be that Podranea was introduced to southern Africa by slave traders, who frequented the eastern coast of Africa long before the 1600s (Malan and Notten 2002). Podranea has however become naturalised in so many parts of the world, that its virtually impossible to trace its origins, but perhaps General Ricasoli's plants came from Brazil after all?.
Citation
von Staden, L. 2007. Podranea ricasoliana (Tanfani) Sprague. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. Accessed on 2020/01/18

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