Tenacious Sugarbush

Scientific Name
Protea tenax (Salisb.) R.Br.
Higher Classification
Protea acaulis (L.) Reichard, Protea acaulis (L.) Reichard var. cockscombensis Archibald
Common Names
Tenacious Sugarbush (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Protea tenax is a range-restricted species, with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 16 048 km², and area of occupancy (AOO) of 912 km². It is locally fairly common across its range and while some decline is taking place, it is not in danger of extinction. It is therefore listed as Least Concern.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, Western Cape
This species is known from Outeniqua, Tsitsikamma, eastern Groot Swartberg, Kammanassie, Kouga, Baviaanskloof and Winterhoek mountains, in the Western and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Kouga Grassy Sandstone Fynbos, Kouga Sandstone Fynbos, South Kammanassie Sandstone Fynbos, North Kammanassie Sandstone Fynbos, South Swartberg Sandstone Fynbos, North Swartberg Sandstone Fynbos, Tsitsikamma Sandstone Fynbos, South Outeniqua Sandstone Fynbos, North Outeniqua Sandstone Fynbos
It is found in montane fynbos, on variable soils, 100-1800 m. Mature individuals are killed by fires, and only seeds survive. Wind-dispersed seeds are stored in fire-resistant inflorescences, and released after fires. It is pollinated by rodents.
There has been at least a 14% loss of habitat in the past due to agriculture and human settlements. Further loss of habitat was witnessed during the construction of wind turbines and roads between 2012 and 2014 near Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape. Habitat degradation due to grazing livestock and competition from alien invasive plants is ongoing.

Many subpopulations are sparse and only contain a few plants, but this might be due to its cryptic habit, rather than possible population declines. The population is widespread but is declining slowly due to habitat loss and degradation.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea tenax (Salisb.) R.Br.Least Concern Raimondo 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. 2019. Protea tenax (Salisb.) R.Br. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/17

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Distribution map

© D. Turner

© W. Wiles

© Outramps

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