Red Sugarbush

Scientific Name
Protea grandiceps Tratt.
Higher Classification
Common Names
Red Sugarbush (e), Rooi-suikerbos (a), Rooisuikerkan (a), Rooi-suikerkan (a), Suikerbos (a)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Near Threatened C2a(i)
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, D. Raimondo & L. von Staden
Protea grandiceps is an endemic to the mountains of the Cape Floral Region, this species has an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 44 278km² and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 900 km². Subpopulations are typically small consisting of a few mature individuals only. A total of 797 stands of this species from 84 subpopulations have been recorded and the population is estimated to consist of between 13 700 and 15 800 mature individuals. None of the subpopulations are larger than 200 mature individuals, and there is ongoing decline to the population as a result of too frequent fires and competition from invasive alien plant species. It therefore qualifies as Near Threatened under criterion C.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, Western Cape
This species is endemic to the mountains of the Fynbos Biome in South Africa occurring from the Cape Peninsula in the Western Cape Province to Kouga in the Eastern Cape.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos, Kouga Grassy Sandstone Fynbos, Kouga Sandstone Fynbos, South Kammanassie Sandstone Fynbos, Tsitsikamma Sandstone Fynbos, South Outeniqua Sandstone Fynbos, North Outeniqua Sandstone Fynbos, South Langeberg Sandstone Fynbos, North Langeberg Sandstone Fynbos, South Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, North Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos, Hawequas Sandstone Fynbos, Breede Shale Fynbos, Boland Granite Fynbos
It occurs on rocky crevices on dry summit ridges which offer some protection from fire, at an altitude of between 1200-1700 m. It is a relatively slow maturing species which is easily eliminated by too-frequent fires. 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 birds.
This slow growing species is vulnerable to too frequent fires. A total of 11% of the large stands of this species that were recorded between 1994 and 2002 have been impacted by too frequent fire return intervals. Too frequent fire has been documented on the Cape Peninsula to cause severe declines to this species. Furthermore invasive alien plant species are causing ongoing habitat degradation to much of this species' range especially in the western parts in the Riviersonderend Mountains and the Hottentot Holland Mountains. The combination of these two pressures is resulting in an ongoing decline to the population.

This species typically occurs as small stands of a handful of mature individuals, it has been recorded from 797 stands however the vast majority of these consist of fewer than 5 plants. During the Protea Atlas Project implemented between 1994 and 2002 the entire range of this species was surveyed. A total of 13 large subpopulation where over 100 plants occur were recorded and these together total an estimated 8700 plants. Fire records systematically collected by the conservation agency CapeNature indicate that 11% of these large subpopulations have been too frequently burnt (fire return intervals of less than 10 years). The remaining small stands of individuals are estimated to collectively consist of between 5000 and 7145 mature individuals. The total population is thus estimated to be between 13 700 and 15 800 individuals. There is no subpopulation with more than 200 mature individuals. There is ongoing decline to the population as a result of too frequent fires and competition from invasive alien plant species.

Population trend
It is protected in Table Mountain, Hottentot Holland, Theewaters, Riviersonderend, Dassieshoek, Witbooisrivier, Marloth, Boosmansbos, Garcia, Paardeberg, Ruitersbos, Kammanassie, Kouga Wilderness, Soetkraal, Witteelsbos, Bergplaas, and Baviaanskloof nature reserves.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea grandiceps Tratt.NT B1ac(iv)+2ac(iv)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.

Vlok, J. and Schutte-Vlok, A.L. 2010. Plants of the Klein Karoo. Umdaus Press, Hatfield.

Rebelo, A.G., Raimondo, D. & von Staden, L. 2020. Protea grandiceps Tratt. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/17

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Distribution map

© J.H. Vlok/A.L. Schutte-Vlok

© Outramps

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