Sandpaper-leaf Sugarbush

Scientific Name
Protea scabra R.Br.
Higher Classification
Protea tenuifolia R.Br.
Common Names
Sandpaper-leaf Sugarbush (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable A4ce
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Protea scabra has a restricted distribution range, with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 11 624 km², and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 1684-1688 km². There is ongoing loss and severe degradation of habitat by alien invasive plants. A population reduction of 33-38% is projected to be met by 2070, a period of less than three generations for this long-lived resprouter (generation length 50-100 years), which includes two generations in the past and one generation projected into the future. This species therefore qualifies for listing as Vulnerable under criterion A.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
This species is endemic to the Western Cape Province, South Africa, where it occurs from the Hottentots Holland to Riviersonderend, Kleinrivier Mountains to the Caledon Swartberg.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Swartland Granite Renosterveld, Potberg Sandstone Fynbos, South Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, North Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, Overberg Sandstone Fynbos, Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos, Hawequas Sandstone Fynbos, Greyton Shale Fynbos, Elgin Shale Fynbos, Cape Winelands Shale Fynbos, Boland Granite Fynbos, Elim Ferricrete Fynbos, Western Coastal Shale Band Vegetation
It grows on shale bands, but also in montane sandstone fynbos, 50-1400 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.
A total of 26% of P. scabra's habitat has been irreversibly modified. Loss has been due to urban and coastal development between Gordonís Bay, Pringle Bay and Hermanus in the past. It has also lost habitat in the lowland areas between Paarl, Genadendal and Hermanus to agriculture, mainly fruits and vineyards, and to timber plantations. Plantations are no longer expanding, and in many places they are being phased out, and therefore this threat has ceased. However, these plantations are major sources of alien invasive plants that spread into adjacent native vegetation, and outcompete local species. Escaped pines have been spreading rapidly up the southern slopes of the Riviersonderend Mountains over the past 15 years. Over large areas of the southern slopes, pines are now impenetrable, and continue to spread across to the northern slopes, which were entirely free of alien invasive plants previously. Pines are also spreading in the Franschhoek Mountains, Hottentots Holland Mountains, around Steenbras Dam, and some parts of Kleinrivier. The Caledon Swartberg is also densely invaded with pines and hakeas, and natural fynbos is becoming increasingly degraded. Ongoing competition with invasive alien plants is leading to a continuing decline of the population.

This species is locally common, occurring as scattered plants over large areas, and subpopulations are generally large. This long-lived species (generation length 50-100 years) has already lost 26% of its habitat, and based on recent rates of habitat loss (1990-2014) a population reduction of 33-38% is expected to occur within three generations including two generations in the past, and one projected into the future.

Population trend
It is found within the Kogelberg, Theewaters, Groenlandberg, Houwhoek, Riviersonderend, Fernkloof and Salmonsdam Nature Reserves, however many of these reserves are not safe from the impacts of invasive alien species.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea scabra R.Br.NT A2c+3c+4cRaimondo et al. (2009)

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.

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 scabra R.Br. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/17

Comment on this assessment Comment on this assessment
Distribution map

Search for images of Protea scabra on iNaturalist