Erica-leaved Conebush

Scientific Name
Leucadendron ericifolium R.Br.
Higher Classification
Leucadendron angustatum R.Br., Leucadendron uniflorum E.Phillips
Common Names
Erica-leaved Conebush (e), Erica-leaved Yellowbush (e), Heideblaargeelbos (a), Heideblaar-geelbos (a)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Leucadendron ericifolium has a restricted distribution range, with an Extent of Occurrence of 3317 km², and an Area of Occupancy of 248 km². It has declined in the past, but there is no current continuing decline, and the species is still common. There are potential threats to some subpopulations, but they are unlikely to rapidly cause this species to become in danger of extinction.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
Leucadendron ericifolium occurs on the Langeberg and adjacent Outeniqua mountain ranges between Tradouws Pass and George in the Western Cape. It also occurs on the Rooiberg between Calitzdorp and Vanwyksdorp in the Little Karoo.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
South Rooiberg Sandstone Fynbos, North Rooiberg Sandstone Fynbos, South Outeniqua Sandstone Fynbos, North Outeniqua Sandstone Fynbos, North Langeberg Sandstone Fynbos
This species is localized to fynbos-renosterveld ecotones on lower mountain slopes, 300-1300 m. Mature individuals are killed by fires, and only seeds survive. Seeds are released after ripening, and dispersed by ants to their underground nests, where they are protected from predation and fire. It is dioecious, with wind-pollinated male and female flowers occurring on separate plants.
A small proportion (8%) of this species habitat was lost to agricultural expansion and timber plantations in the past, but no ongoing habitat loss was recorded between 1990 and 2014. In the 1980s, this species was listed as an agricultural weed in need of eradication and chemical control (Wells et al. 1986), in spite of it being thought to be extinct. Recent field observations indicate that alien invasive plants are present in low densities at some localities in the Outeniqua Mountains. If invasive plants are not cleared, the are likely to continue to spread and increase in density, eventually outcompeting native species. Too frequent fire, which can result in local extinctions of reseeders when plants are killed before they are reproductively mature, has also been noted as a potential threat at some localities.

This species was thought to be extinct in 1972, but it was merely overlooked, as its habitat was poorly explored. During Protea Atlas Surveys, several dense, isolated stands were recorded over a 150 km range. There are between 10 and 30 subpopulations, with three consisting of more than 10 000 mature individuals. There is no current population decline, but there was sporadic loss of subpopulations and mature individuals in the past, as a result of habitat loss, and the species being mistaken for an agricultural weed.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Leucadendron ericifolium R.Br.Least Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)
Leucadendron ericifolium R.Br.Not Threatened Hilton-Taylor (1996)
Leucadendron ericifolium R.Br.Endangered Hall et al. (1980)

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.

Hall, A.V. and Veldhuis, R.N.J. 1985. South Arican red data book: Plants - Fynbos and Karoo biomes. South African National Scientific Programmes Report 117. CSIR, Pretoria.

Hall, A.V., De Winter, M., De Winter, B. and Van Oosterhout, S.A.M. 1980. Threatened plants of southern Africa. South African National Scienctific Programmes Report 45. CSIR, Pretoria.

Hilton-Taylor, C. 1996. Red data list of southern African plants. Strelitzia 4. South African National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

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.

Vlok, J. 1991. Unrecognized rare species from the southern Cape. Protea Atlas Newsletter 9:8-9.

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

Wells, M.J., Balsinhas, A.A., Joffe, H., Engelbrecht, V.M., Harding, G. and Stirton, C.H. 1986. A catalogue of problem plants in southern Africa. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa 53. Botanical Research Institute and Department of Agriculture and Water Supply, Pretoria.

Rebelo, A.G., Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2019. Leucadendron ericifolium R.Br. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2022/07/06

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Distribution map

© D. Turner

© J.H. Vlok/A.L. Schutte-Vlok

© J.H. Vlok/A.L. Schutte-Vlok

© I. Ebrahim

© I. Ebrahim

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