Dainty Sugarbush

Scientific Name
Protea parvula Beard
Higher Classification
Common Names
Dainty Sugarbush (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Near Threatened A2c; B1b(iii,v)+2b(iii,v)
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali, L. von Staden & M. Lötter
Protea parvula has a limited distribution range, with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 16 797 km², and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 176 km². It is known from 17-19 locations. A population reduction of 29% is estimated based on a 37% habitat loss to afforestation and mining over the past three generation (150-300 years). There is a continuing decline to quality of habitat due to infestation with alien plants. It therefore nearly meets the thresholds for Vulnerable under criteria A2 and B and is listed as Near Threatened.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga
This species occurs on the Drakensberg Escarpment, in the Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces of South Africa from Mariepskop to Vryheid, it also occurs in Eswatini.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Long Tom Pass Montane Grassland, Steenkampsberg Montane Grassland, Northern Escarpment Quartzite Sourveld, Barberton Montane Grassland, KaNgwane Montane Grassland, Wakkerstroom Montane Grassland
It grows in rocky, exposed grassland in acid soils, 1300-2200 m. It is a long-lived species, and survives fires by resprouting from underground boles or rootstocks. Wind-dispersed seeds are not stored on the plant, and are released immediately after ripening. It is pollinated by birds.
Protea parvula's habitat in Barberton, Graskop, and Lydenburg has been fragmented through extensive past loss to commercial timber plantations. It has also lost habitat to plantations and mining around Bulembu and Ngwenya in Eswatini in the past. There is no significant ongoing expansion of plantations, but plantations are major sources of alien invasive plants that spread into adjacent native vegetation, and outcompete local species. Within properties owned by commercial timber companies, invasive plants are generally well controlled and remaining grassland fragments are in good condition. Much of the remaining grasslands in the Lydenburg and Barberton region are now protected in provincial and private nature reserves, and where it occurs, it is always on very shallow soils (usually overlying shale) which are not easy to develop on. There is no longer water available to plant up new areas so the risk of losing further habitat to plantations is very low (Lötter pers. obs.).

This species is locally abundant in grasslands. In Mpumalanga, it is relatively safe from afforestation in that it prefers shallow soils that are unsuitable for agroforestry, although neighbouring plantations might well affect water relationships and fire dynamics within the patches. Destruction of stands for mining soapstone is not known in South Africa, although it is prominent in Eswatini. The population is therefore still declining due to habitat loss and degradation mainly in Eswatini.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea parvula BeardNT A2cRaimondo et al. (2009)
Protea parvula BeardNot Threatened Hilton-Taylor (1996)

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.

Rebelo, A.G., Mtshali, H., von Staden, L. & Lötter, M. 2020. Protea parvula Beard. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/17

Comment on this assessment Comment on this assessment
Distribution map

© J.E. Burrows

© J.E. Burrows

© J.E. Burrows

Search for images of Protea parvula on iNaturalist