Channel-leaf Featherbush

Taxonomy
Scientific Name
Aulax cancellata (L.) Druce
Higher Classification
Dicotyledons
Family
PROTEACEAE
Synonyms
Aulax pinifolia P.J.Bergius
Common Names
Channel-leaf Featherbush (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
2019/06/27
Assessor(s)
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Justification
Aulax cancellata is widespread (EOO 30 000 km²) and not in danger of extinction.
Distribution
Endemism
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, Western Cape
Range
This species is widespread in the mountains of the southern and Eastern Cape, where it occurs from the Cape Peninsula and Hottentots-Holland Mountains to the Langeberg and Kouga Mountains, Swartberg and Kammanassie mountains.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Terrestrial
Major habitats
Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos, Kouga Sandstone Fynbos, South Kammanassie Sandstone Fynbos, South Swartberg Sandstone Fynbos, North Swartberg Sandstone Fynbos, South Rooiberg Sandstone Fynbos, North Rooiberg Sandstone Fynbos, South Outeniqua Sandstone Fynbos, North Outeniqua Sandstone Fynbos, South Langeberg Sandstone Fynbos, North Langeberg Sandstone Fynbos, South Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos, Hawequas Sandstone Fynbos
Description
It occurs in montane sandstone fynbos, 0-1400 m. Mature individuals are killed by fires, and only seeds survive. Wind-dispersed seeds are stored in fire-resistant inflorescences, and released after fires. It is dioecious, with insect-pollinated male and female flowers occurring on separate plants.
Threats
Immature individuals of this species are often mistaken for invasive exotic pine seedlings, and some subpopulations have been cleared as a result of alien invasive clearing efforts. Too frequent fires is causing ongoing habitat degradation in many parts of this species' range, and as a reseeder, it is likely to decline and disappear in areas that are repeatedly burnt before plants reach reproductive maturity. Recent field observations indicate that subpopulations in the Langeberg, Outeniqua and Swartberg mountains are threatened by competition from spreading, unmanaged alien invasive plants. Some subpopulations have been contaminated due to hybridization with Aulax umbellata that were planted within its habitat, and these may not be viable in the long term. Historically, subpopulations on the Cape Peninsula were over-harvested for firewood, but this is no longer a threat.
Population

Two subpopulations have gone extinct at the summit of Table Mountain, where the species was last recorded in the 1800s. It was replanted on Table Mountain, only to be mistaken for alien invasive pines and removed. A few planted plants remain on Lions Head. Subpopulations are generally small and scattered, but dense stands are encountered occasionally. The population has declined in the past due to firewood harvesting and being mistaken for invasive pine seedlings, but apart from the Cape Peninsula, there has been no major past population reduction. Spreading alien invasive plants and too frequent fires in parts of its range could lead to future decline if not managed.


Population trend
Stable
Notes
Two different forms exist: The southwestern form is more robust than the more slender eastern form (Rourke 1987). However, formal taxonomic recognition of these differences has not been made.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Aulax cancellata (L.) DruceLeast Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)
Bibliography

Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J.C. 2000. Cape Plants: A conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.


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.


Rebelo, T. 2001. Sasol Proteas: A field guide to the proteas of southern Africa. (2nd ed.). Fernwood Press, Vlaeberg, Cape Town.


Rourke, J.P. 1987. The inflorescence, morphology and systematics of Aulax (Proteaceae). South African Journal of Botany 53(6):464-480.


Vlok, J. and Schutte-Vlok, A.L. 2010. Plants of the Klein Karoo. Umdaus Press, Hatfield.


Citation
Rebelo, A.G., Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2019. Aulax cancellata (L.) Druce. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2022/01/26

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Distribution map

© B. du Preez

© C. Merry

© C. Merry

© J.H. Vlok/A.L. Schutte-Vlok

© J.H. Vlok/A.L. Schutte-Vlok

© J.H. Vlok/A.L. Schutte-Vlok

© Outramps

© Outramps

© I. Ebrahim


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