Long-leaf Sugarbush

Scientific Name
Protea longifolia Andrews
Higher Classification
Protea ignota E.Phillips, Protea ligulaefolia (Salisb. ex Knight) Sweet, Protea minor (E.Phillips) Compton, Protea umbonalis (Salisb. ex Knight) Sweet
Common Names
Long-leaf Sugarbush (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Near Threatened B1b(iii,v)+2b(iii,v)
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Protea longifolia is a range-restricted species, with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 5850 km², and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 1584-1588 km². It is declining across its range due to ongoing habitat loss to commercial protea cultivation and degradation by fire and alien invasive plants, but is still common, occurring at more than 10 locations. Therefore it nearly meets the thresholds for Vulnerable under criterion B and is listed as Near Threatened.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
This species has a restricted distribution range in the mountains and coastal flats of southwestern parts of the Western Cape Province, South Africa. It occurs from the Hottentots Holland Mountains to the Agulhas Plain.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
South Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, North Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, Overberg Sandstone Fynbos, Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos, Hawequas Sandstone Fynbos, Greyton Shale Fynbos, Elgin Shale Fynbos, Boland Granite Fynbos, Elim Ferricrete Fynbos
It occurs in sandstone and ferricrete fynbos, 20- 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.
Subpopulations in lowland areas were affected mostly by agricultural expansions in the past. Recent field observations recorded a lack of effective fire management as well as the presence of alien invasive plants in low densities in parts of the range. These threats may cause the subpopulations to decline in future. This species is heavily picked in the wild as a cut flower for the local market. Over picking may explain declines observed in some subpopulations, but others (e.g. Caledon Swartberg) are not so easily explained and must be attributed to unfavourable fire seasons (e.g. Spring fires). It is adversely affected by protea orchards but also by the interplanting of commercially more popular species such as Protea compacta and Leucadendron platyspermum in natural veld. Protea longifolia is the most promiscuous species in the genus and hybridizes naturally with many proteas with which it coexists. It also hybridizes with protea species established in orchards adjacent to its habitat, the consequences of this have never been studied, but it is suspected that hybrids will more readily occur with introduced species (compared to naturally allopatric species). A study of this is urgently required. This is one of four taxa predicted to be extinct by 2025, due to the combined effects of habitat transformation and climate change (Bomhard et al. 2005), fortunately no such drastic population reductions have yet been observed.

Protea longifolia is common, sparsely distributed, and subpopulations are large consisting of thousands of individuals. The population is declining due to inappropriate fire management and competition from alien invasive plants.

Population trend
It is protected in Kogelberg, Theewaters, Groenlandberg, Houwhoek, Kleinmond Coast and Mountain, Fernkloof, Salmonsdam and Heuningberg Nature Reserves and Rietfontein Private Nature Reserve. Agulhas Vulnerability Index of 3 out of 11 (Privett et al. 2005).
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea longifolia AndrewsVU A2c+3c+4cRaimondo et al. (2009)
Protea longifolia AndrewsNot Threatened Hilton-Taylor (1996)
Protea minor (E.Phillips) ComptonVulnerable Hall et al. (1980)

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.

Hall, A.V., De Winter, M., De Winter, B. and Van Oosterhout, S.A.M. 1980. Threatened plants of southern Africa. South African National Scienctific Programmes Report 45. CSIR, Pretoria.

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.

Privett, S., Bailey, R., Raimondo, D., Kirkwood, D. and Euston-Brown, D. 2005. A vulnerability index for rare and harvested plant species on the Agulhas Plain. Flower Valley Conservation Trust.

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. 2020. Protea longifolia Andrews. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/17

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Distribution map

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