Large-nut Sugarbush

Scientific Name
Protea inopina Rourke
Higher Classification
Common Names
Large-nut Sugarbush (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Critically Endangered B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v)
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, D. Raimondo & L. von Staden
Protea inopina is a highly localized species, known from only one location with an extent of occurrence (EOO) and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 16 km². It has experienced a population reduction in excess of 50% over the past three generations, with this reduction inferred from habitat loss over the past 150-300 years. The population consists of fewer than 800 mature individuals and there is ongoing decline as a result of agricultural conversion of its habitat for crop cultivation, lack of burning and the impacts of pathogens. This species therefore qualifies for listing as Critically Endangered under criterion B.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
This species is confined to southern Olifants River Mountains near Paleisheuwel, in the Western Cape Province, South Africa.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Cederberg Sandstone Fynbos
It grows in sandstone fynbos on rocky slopes, at 550-800 m and is a long-lived species (generation length 50-100 years). It survives fires by resprouting from underground boles or rootstocks. Wind-dispersed seeds are stored in fire-resistant inflorescences, and released after fires. It is pollinated by birds.
Although this species occurs in areas not suitable for ploughing (preferring rocky slopes rather than deep soils), it had lost about 35% of its habitat by 2014, and loss is ongoing with 15% of the known population lost to ploughing between 2014 and 2020. This species is a resprouter and survives fire well, not exhibiting any marked fire-related population fluctuations, however it is likely to be threatened by inappropriate fire regimes, particularly lack of fire as it occurs near agricultural fields. No drought-related mortality has yet been observed, however severe infestations of scale insects have been noted on the plants and these will continue to cause population decline.

This is a very localized species, currently known from a single population extending over 3 km on the Olifants River Mountains. As a resprouter this species survives fire well, and no fire related population fluctuations have been observed. It was estimated that there were 800-1000 plants in the population in 2002. One of the largest stands of around 100-200 plants was lost to ploughing between 2014 and 2020. The population is thus currently declining.

Population trend
This species is not formally protected.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea inopina RourkeVU D1+2Raimondo et al. (2009)
Protea inopina RourkeRare 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., Raimondo, D. & von Staden, L. 2020. Protea inopina Rourke. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/17

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Distribution map

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