Reed-leaf Sugarbush

Scientific Name
Protea restionifolia (Salisb. ex Knight) Rycroft
Higher Classification
Protea echinulata Meisn., Protea echinulata Meisn. var. minor E.Phillips
Common Names
Reed-leaf Sugarbush (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable A2c; B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Protea restionifolia is a Western Cape endemic that has a restricted range with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 4235 km², and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 180-188 km². Ten remaining locations continue to decline as a result of alien plant invasions, grazing, road verge clearing, herbicide drift from adjacent agricultural fields and mining. A population reduction of 24-30% is estimated based on the combined transformation of fynbos and renosterveld habitat, mainly for the cultivation of cereals and vineyards in the past 100 years (generation length at least 100 years). It therefore qualifies for listing as Vulnerable under criteria A and B.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
This species is endemic to the Western Cape Province, South Africa, where it found to occur from the Koue Bokkeveld to Wolseley and Bot River.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Breede Shale Renosterveld, Western Ruens Shale Renosterveld, Cederberg Sandstone Fynbos, North Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, Overberg Sandstone Fynbos, Hawequas Sandstone Fynbos, Breede Quartzite Fynbos, Greyton Shale Fynbos, Elgin Shale Fynbos, Elim Ferricrete Fynbos, Breede Sand Fynbos, Western Coastal Shale Band Vegetation
It grows in dry areas at fynbos-karoo and fynbos-renosterveld ecotones, 150-300 m. It is a long-lived species, and survives fires by resprouting from underground stems. Wind-dispersed seeds are stored in fire-resistant inflorescences, and released after fires. It is pollinated by birds and insects.
Past and ongoing habitat loss to the cultivation of cereals, vineyards and pasture is the main threat to this species. Some subpopulations are also likely to have been lost to the construction of the Brandvlei and Kwaggaskloof Dams. Many remaining subpopulations are now confined to small fragments and road verges where they are threatened by alien plant invasion (predominantly Hakea species), livestock overgrazing, clearing of road verges and herbicide drift from adjacent agricultural lands.

Past habitat loss to the cultivation of cereals, vineyards and pasture is suspected to have caused a significant population reduction, however, to estimate the extent of the population reduction is quite difficult. Almost all of the known subpopulations are in fynbos-renosterveld ecotones immediately above agricultural land, or in patches surrounded by crop fields. It is not known whether the fynbos-renosterveld ecotone is this species' preferred habitat (in which case past population reduction would be lower), or whether it is a marginal habitat, with this species preferring shale-derived clay soils associated with lowland renosterveld, which is much more severely impacted by agriculture and in which case population reduction would be much higher. The estimate of population reduction of 24-30% is based on a combined loss of fynbos and renosterveld habitat. This species is extremely cryptic, with a resulting lack of historical herbarium records which could shed more light on this species' habitat preferences pre-disturbance. There are 21 subpopulations, and the majority of these are small. The population continues to decline due to habitat loss and degradation.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea restionifolia (Salisb. ex Knight) RycroftVU A2c; B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)Raimondo et al. (2009)
Protea restionifolia (Salisb. ex Knight) RycroftVulnerable Hilton-Taylor (1996)

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.

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

Manning, J.C. and Goldblatt, P. 2012. Plants of the Greater Cape Floristic Region 1: The Core Cape Flora. Strelitzia 29. South African National Biodiversity 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. 2020. Protea restionifolia (Salisb. ex Knight) Rycroft. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/17

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Distribution map

© M. Treurnicht

© M. Treurnicht

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