Snow Protea

Scientific Name
Protea cryophila Bolus
Higher Classification
Common Names
Sneeublom (a), Sneeuprotea (a), Snow Protea (e), Snowball Protea (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable D2
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Protea cryophila occurs in a small area of the Cederberg Mountain, and is known from four locations that are potentially threatened by too frequent fires, alien invasive plants and climate change. Plants are slow to mature and therefore particularly sensitive to increased fire frequency. Although the habitat is untransformed and continuous between locations, subpopulations are naturally isolated. Therefore it is listed as Vulnerable under criterion D.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
This species is endemic to the Cederberg Mountains, in the Western Cape Province, South Africa.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Cederberg Sandstone Fynbos
It grows on rocky ledges and screes, at 900-1900 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.
Currently, there are no threats to this species, but as a reseeder that is slow to mature, it is potentially threatened by increasing fire frequency, as local extinctions can occur when fires repeatedly kill individuals before they reach reproductive maturity. It is also potentially threatened by alien invasive plants, currently present at very low densities. Climate change is an additional future potential threat.

This species is locally common and naturally fragmented being restricted to high peaks. There are four known subpopulations, the largest is at Langberg/Shadow Peak where over 23 000 mature individuals occur. It is not suspected to be declining, and most of its habitat is intact and falls within a protected area.

Population trend
Protea cryophila is protected within the Cederberg Wilderness Area.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea cryophila BolusVU D22020.1
Protea cryophila BolusNT D2Raimondo et al. (2009)
Protea cryophila BolusRare 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. 2019. Protea cryophila Bolus. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/16

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Distribution map

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