Black-bearded Sugarbush

Scientific Name
Protea lepidocarpodendron (L.) L.
Higher Classification
Protea fulva Tausch, Protea lepidocarpodendron (L.) L. var. villosa E.Phillips
Common Names
Baardsuikerbos (a), Baardsuikerkan (a), Baster-blousuikerbos (a), Black-bearded Protea (e), Black-bearded Protea (a), Black-bearded Sugarbush (e), Bobbejaanbos (a), Monkey Protea (e), Suikerbos (a), Swartbaardsuikerbos (a), Swartbaard-suikerbos (a), Swartbaardsuikerkan (a)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Near Threatened A3e
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Protea lepidocarpodendron has a limited distribution range, with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 3847 km², and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 616 km². Extensive hybridization with introduced Protea neriifolia has been observed. It is estimated that this genetic contamination could affect nearly 30% of the population within the next three generations (45-60 years). This species therefore qualifies for listing as Near Threatened under criterion A.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
This species has a small distribution range in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, where it occurs on the Cape Peninsula and on the Kogelberg and Kleinrivier Mountains.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Peninsula Shale Renosterveld, Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos, Overberg Sandstone Fynbos, Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos, Elgin Shale Fynbos, Cape Winelands Shale Fynbos, Peninsula Shale Fynbos, Peninsula Granite Fynbos, Elim Ferricrete Fynbos, Western Coastal Shale Band Vegetation
It occurs in sandstone fynbos, usually associated with ferricrete and silcrete outcrops, and can be locally dominant on shale and granite fynbos, 0-800 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. It has a generation length linked to natural fire cycles of between 15 and 20 years.
Protea lepidocarpodendron has lost 24% of its habitat in the past, and loss continues. The main cause of habitat loss is urban expansion (coastal holiday housing), from Cape Town to Hermanus. Alien invasive plants, particularly escaped Pinus, Hakea, and Acacia are increasing in density in Helderberg, Onrusberg, parts of the Cape Peninsula and Kleinrivier Mountains. This species has extensively hybridized with Protea neriifolia, mainly from plantings of the latter in borrow pits, public places and botanical gardens, but also from adjacent urban gardens. Protea neriifolia was used for restoration along the Rooiels-Bettys Bay road within P. lepidocarpodendron's range, and has been planted in specimen gardens in the Silvermine, Helderberg and Salmonsdam Nature Reserve. Its hybridization has been documented at Silvermine (Visser 2005). It should be closely monitored to determine the extent of hybridization.

Subpopulations of this species are dense, and dominant over a large area. Population reduction is inferred from habitat loss and hybridization with P. neriifolia plants.

Population trend
It is conserved in the Table Mountain National Park, Kogelberg, Kleinmond Coast and Mountain, Fernkloof, Maanskynkop and Salmonsdam nature reserves and Vogelgat Private Nature Reserve, but much of this is adjacent to urban gardens (e.g. Cape Town, Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay, Kleinmond, Onrust, Hermanus). A ban on planting of P. neriifolia within 500 m to 1 km of natural stands, including in urban areas and botanical gardens (e.g. Kirstenbosch and Harold Porter), of P. lepidocarpodendron should be investigated.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea lepidocarpodendron (L.) L.NT A4eRaimondo 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.

Visser, V. 2005. A traitor in the ranks: hybridization between two formerly allopatric Protea species. Unpublished BSc. Hons., University of Cape Town, Cape Town.

Rebelo, A.G., Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2020. Protea lepidocarpodendron (L.) L. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/17

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Distribution map

© C. Merry

© C. Merry

© C. Merry

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