Heart-leaf Sugarbush

Scientific Name
Protea cordata Thunb.
Higher Classification
Common Names
Heart-leaf Sugarbush (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Near Threatened B1ab(v)+2ab(v)
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Protea cordata has a restricted distribution range, with an Extent of Occurrence of 16 092 km², and an Area of Occupancy of 776-808 km². It is declining due to competition from alien invasive plants, but is still relatively common, occurring at more than 10 locations. Therefore it nearly meets the thresholds for Vulnerable under criterion B.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
Protea cordata occurs in the mountains of the southern Western Cape, from Du Toit's Kloof southwards to Kleinmond and Hermanus, and eastwards along the coastal mountains to Bredasdorp and the Agulhas Plain. Isolated subpopulations occur in the Riviersonderend Mountains and the central Langeberg Mountain Range.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
South Langeberg Sandstone Fynbos, North Langeberg Sandstone Fynbos, South 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, Central Coastal Shale Band Vegetation, Western Coastal Shale Band Vegetation
It occurs in montane fynbos in variable habitats, but prefers shale bands, 0-1500 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.
A small proportion of this species' habitat was lost to timber plantations in the past, but plantations are no longer expanding, and therefore this threat has ceased. Timber plantations are however a major source of alien invasive plants, particularly escaped pine seedlings that are invading surrounding native vegetation, and outcompeting native species when they become dense. It is currently threatened by competition from alien invasive plants in the Hottentots Holland Mountains, Du Toit's Kloof Mountains, Riviersonderend Mountains, Bredasdorp Mountains as well as some parts of the Langeberg.

Subpopulations tend to be isolated, and many are small. Isolated clumps of a few dozen plants are typical, although some subpopulations are extensive. A continuing decline is inferred from dense alien invasive plant infestations in parts of its range. Over most of its habitat, alien plant densities is still low, but if these are not controlled, they are likely to outcompete native species in future.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea cordata Thunb.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.

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 cordata Thunb. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2023/12/04

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Distribution map

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