Port St John's Creeper

Scientific Name
Podranea ricasoliana (Tanfani) Sprague
Higher Classification
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
L. von Staden
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.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape
Port St. Johns.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Scarp Forest
Coastal forest margins on shales.
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 trend
Not recorded from any formally protected area.
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?.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Podranea ricasoliana (Tanfani) SpragueVU D2Raimondo et al. (2009)
Podranea ricasoliana (Tanfani) SpragueLower Risk - Least Concern Scott-Shaw (1999)

Boon, R. 2010. Pooley's Trees of eastern South Africa. Flora and Fauna Publications Trust, Durban.

Malan, C. and Notten, A. 2002. Podranea ricasoliana (Tanf.) Sprague. http://www.plantzafrica.com. Downloaded on 24 October 2007.

Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to wild flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.

Raimondo, D., von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. and Manyama, P.A. 2009. Red List of South African Plants. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Scott-Shaw, C.R. 1999. Rare and threatened plants of KwaZulu-Natal and neighbouring regions. KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service, Pietermaritzburg.

Verdoorn, I.C. 1961. Podranea ricasoliana. Flowering Plants of Africa 34:t. 1347.

von Staden, L. 2007. Podranea ricasoliana (Tanfani) Sprague. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/07/18

Comment on this assessment Comment on this assessment
Distribution map

Search for images of Podranea ricasoliana on iNaturalist