African Sugarbush

Scientific Name
Protea gaguedi J.F.Gmel.
Higher Classification
Protea abyssinica Willd., Protea chrysolepis Engl. & Gilg, Protea trigona E.Phillips
Common Names
African Sugarbush (e), African White Sugarbush (e), Afrika-witsuikerbos (a), Deciduous Sugarbush (e), Grootsuikerbos (a), Groot-suikerbos (a), Isiqalaba (z), Segwapi (ns), Suikerbos (a), Tshizungu (v), White Sugarbush (e), Witsuikerbos (a)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Protea gaguedi is a locally common shrub, and the second-most widespread of all sugarbushes. It has an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 166 980 km². It has declined due to habitat loss over the past 150 years with 32% of its habitat transformed. Observations indicate that it is still fairly common, occurring at 46 locations. More field surveys and population monitoring is needed to better understand this species' risk of extinction. Currently available data suggest that it is declining, but is not yet in danger of extinction. It is therefore listed as Least Concern.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West
This species is widespread across the northern provinces of South Africa, occurring in North West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, and in low abundance in KwaZulu-Natal. It extends to Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, northwards to Malawi and Ethiopia.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Long Tom Pass Montane Grassland, Rand Highveld Grassland, Wakkerstroom Montane Grassland, Paulpietersburg Moist Grassland, KaNgwane Montane Grassland, Barberton Montane Grassland, Northern Escarpment Dolomite Grassland, Northern Escarpment Quartzite Sourveld, Woodbush Granite Grassland, Wolkberg Dolomite Grassland, Soutpansberg Summit Sourveld, Carletonville Dolomite Grassland, Steenkampsberg Montane Grassland, Legogote Sour Bushveld, Northern Zululand Mistbelt Grassland, Ithala Quartzite Sourveld, Loskop Mountain Bushveld, Waterberg Mountain Bushveld, Soutpansberg Mountain Bushveld, Ohrigstad Mountain Bushveld, Moot Plains Bushveld, Gold Reef Mountain Bushveld, Kaalrug Mountain Bushveld, Swaziland Sour Bushveld, Tzaneen Sour Bushveld, Waterberg-Magaliesberg Summit Sourveld
Its habitat is variable, but most common in rocky outcrops and drier areas, 600-2500 m. It is a long-lived species, and survives fires by resprouting from aerial stems. Wind-dispersed seeds are stored in fire-resistant inflorescences, and released after fires. It is pollinated by birds and rodents.
In South Africa, suitable habitat has been lost to timber plantations in Mpumalanga, around Pilgrim's Rest, Lydenburg, and Barberton. There is no longer significant expansion of plantations, however small grassland fragments between plantations are often invaded by alien species that are outcompeting native species, as well as subjected to inappropriate fire management, either with too frequent fires in fire breaks, or too infrequent fires elsewhere to avoid risks of damage to plantations. Elsewhere in Africa it is likely to be impacted by too frequent burning to promote grazing.

This species is usually found in isolated forested areas or as scattered plants, but can also be locally common. Currently known from over 102 subpopulations in South Africa, 44% of these are small and isolated, and is widespread outside South Africa. The largest subpopulation occurs near the border of Mpumalanga Province in Malolotja Nature Reserve (Eswatini). It was presumed extinct in the early 1990s in Namibia due to use of roots for aphrodisiac (Rebelo, 2001).

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea gaguedi J.F.Gmel.Least Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)
Protea gaguedi J.F.Gmel.Lower Risk - Least Concern Scott-Shaw (1999)
Protea gaguedi J.F.Gmel.Not Threatened Hilton-Taylor (1996)

Boon, R. 2010. Pooley's Trees of eastern South Africa. Flora and Fauna Publications Trust, Durban.

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

Scott-Shaw, C.R. 1999. Rare and threatened plants of KwaZulu-Natal and neighbouring regions. KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service, Pietermaritzburg.

Rebelo, A.G., Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2019. Protea gaguedi J.F.Gmel. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/17

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Distribution map

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