Hottentot Sugarbush

Scientific Name
Protea lacticolor Salisb.
Higher Classification
Common Names
Hottentot Sugarbush (e), Hottentot White Sugarbush (e), Hottentot's Holland Sugarbush (e), Hottentot-suikerbos (a), Witsuikerbos (a), Witsuikerboskan (a)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable B1ab(iii,v)+2ab(iii,v)
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Protea lacticolor is a range-restricted serotinous species, with an extent of occurrence (EOO) 1860 km², and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 128 km². It is known from between eight and ten locations and is vulnerable to too frequent fires and hybridization with proteas cultivated for the cut flower trade. It is threatened by alien invasive plants which are causing ongoing degradation of its habitat in parts of its range. It therefore qualifies for listing as Vulnerable under criterion B.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
This species has a restricted distribution range in the mountains of the Western Cape Province, South Africa, where it occurs from Bain's Kloof to the Hottentots Holland Mountains.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Elgin Shale Fynbos, Cape Winelands Shale Fynbos, Boland Granite Fynbos, Western Coastal Shale Band Vegetation
It is most common on high altitude shale bands on south and east aspects, often occurring on stream banks, at 400-1500 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 birds.
Habitat transformation models suggested that this species would become Endangered by 2025 under a high transformation scenario (Bomhard et al. 2005), but this has not materialised. This is unlikely to happen as only a small proportion (2%) has been lost between 1990 and 2014. Although the habitat loss rate is slow, since timber plantations are no longer expanding, much of the shale bands where this species occurs are densely invaded with alien invasive pines and hakeas. These alien invasive plants are likely to increase the intensity of fires, leading to local extinctions if fires repeatedly kill individuals before they reach reproductive maturity. It has been noted that the northern subpopulations are declining for reasons that are unknown. Protea lacticolor is a good cut flower and is cultivated for the cut flower industry, therefore hybridization is highly probable, and with any other White Sugarbush.

This species is highly social, occurring as dense, almost impenetrable thickets. Subpopulations are large and naturally fragmented. The population is inferred to be declining due to habitat degradation.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea lacticolor Salisb.VU B1ab(iii,v)+2ab(iii,v)2020.1
Protea lacticolor Salisb.EN B1ab(i)+2ab(i)Raimondo et al. (2009)

Bomhard, B., Richardson, D.M., Donaldson, J.S., Hughes, G.O., Midgley, G.F., Raimondo, D.C., Rebelo, A.G., Rouget, M. and Thuiller, W. 2005. Potential impacts of future land use and climate change on the Red List status of the Proteaceae in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. Global Change Biology 11(9):1452-1468.

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.

Rebelo, A.G., Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2019. Protea lacticolor Salisb. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/13

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Distribution map

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