Needle-leaf Featherbush

Scientific Name
Aulax pallasia Stapf
Higher Classification
Common Names
Dunbeentjiebos (a), Kersbos (a), Naaldblaarkanariebos (a), Needle-leaf Featherbush (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Aulax pallasia is widespread in the mountains of the Western Cape, and has an extent of occurrence of 23 449 km². Although a small proportion of its habitat has been lost, and there are continuing threats across most of its range, it is not yet in danger of extinction.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
This species is widespread in the mountains of the Western Cape, from Piketberg and the Cederberg to the central Langeberg and Hottentots Holland Mountains.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
South Hex Sandstone Fynbos, North Hex Sandstone Fynbos, Piketberg Sandstone Fynbos, Winterhoek Sandstone Fynbos, Cederberg Sandstone Fynbos, Western Altimontane Sandstone Fynbos, Olifants Sandstone Fynbos, South Langeberg Sandstone Fynbos, North Langeberg Sandstone Fynbos, South Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, North Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos, Hawequas Sandstone Fynbos, Swartruggens Quartzite Fynbos, Boland Granite Fynbos
It occurs in sandstone soils in montane fynbos, often on the edges of wetlands and seeps, 400-1600 m. It is a long-lived species, and survives fires by resprouting from underground boles or rootstocks. 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.
Alien invasive plants were recorded present in 47% of localities during the Protea Atlas Project (1991-2003), and continue to spread across most of the southern part of this species' range. A very small proportion (5%) of its habitat was lost to agriculture (fruit orchards) and exotic timber plantations. Timber plantations are no longer expanding, but sporadic expansion of fruit orchards continue, particularly in the Koue Bokkeveld. Modelling of habitat loss in combination with climate change predicted that this species could decline by more than 30% by 2025 (Bomhard et al. 2005). This analysis however did not consider that this species is a very long-lived resprouter, and is therefore likely to persist, even though climate change may limit recruitment. Ongoing monitoring is needed, particularly as droughts in the Western Cape increase pressure on groundwater resources, on which this seep-preferring species is dependent.

This species is widespread, but occurs in isolated clumps of several scattered plants (Rebelo, 2001). Modelling of habitat loss and the impacts of climate change predicted more than 30% population reduction between 2005 and 2025, but such radical decline has not materialized. However, as this species occurs in small numbers in remote areas, decline may well go undetected. Monitoring is needed, particularly as it is likely to be sensitive to drought and groundwater extraction.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Aulax pallasia StapfNT A4cRaimondo et al. (2009)

Bomhard, B., Richardson, D.M., Donaldson, J.S., Hughes, G.O., Midgley, G.F., Raimondo, D.C., Rebelo, A.G., Rouget, M. and Thuiller, W. 2005. Potential impacts of future land use and climate change on the Red List status of the Proteaceae in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. Global Change Biology 11(9):1452-1468.

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.

Rebelo, A.G., Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2019. Aulax pallasia Stapf. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2020/08/10

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Distribution map

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