Queen Protea

Scientific Name
Protea magnifica Link
Higher Classification
Protea barbigera Meisn.
Common Names
Baardprotea (a), Baardsuikerbos (a), Baard-suikerbos (a), Bearded Sugarbush (e), Koninginprotea (a), Queen Protea (e), Queen Sugarbush (e), Suikerbosprotea (a), Wolbaardsuikerbos (a), Wolbaard-suikerbos (a), Woolly Beard (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Protea magnifica is widespread in the mountains of the Western Cape, with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 39 462 km², and although a small proportion of its habitat has been lost, and there are continuing threats across most of its range, it is not yet in danger of extinction. It is therefore assessed as Least Concern.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
This species is widespread in the mountains of the Western Cape Province, South Africa, where it occurs from the Skimmelberg, Koue Bokkeveld to Hottentots-Holland Mountains, Klein Swartberg, Riviersonderend Mountains and central Langeberg.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
North Swartberg Sandstone Fynbos, Matjiesfontein Quartzite Fynbos, Hawequas Sandstone Fynbos, Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos, Overberg Sandstone Fynbos, North Sonderend Sandstone Fynbos, Swartruggens Quartzite Fynbos, South Langeberg Sandstone Fynbos, South Hex Sandstone Fynbos, South Swartberg Sandstone Fynbos, Western Altimontane Sandstone Fynbos, Swartberg Altimontane Sandstone Fynbos, Cederberg Sandstone Fynbos, Winterhoek Sandstone Fynbos, North Hex Sandstone Fynbos, North Langeberg Sandstone Fynbos
It grows on hot, dry mountain slopes near the snow line, in rocky outcrops where it is protected from fire, 400-2000 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.
Protea magnifica has been threatened by non-sustainable wildflower harvesting in certain areas resulting in significant population crashes in the Baviaansberg and Swartruggens. However, most of the subpopulations are now formally protected. Recent field observations indicate that subpopulations in the Langeberg, Riviersonderend and Swartberg mountains are threatened by competition from spreading, unmanaged alien invasive plants. Too frequent fires are causing ongoing habitat degradation in many parts of this species' range, and as a reseeder and a slow-maturing species, it is likely to decline and disappear in areas that are repeatedly burnt before plants reach reproductive maturity. Contamination with genes of domesticated cultivars and hybrids needs to be monitored where the species is cultivated near natural subpopulations.

Protea magnifica is locally common, occurring in isolated dense stands and occasionally also as scattered plants. Subpopulations are large. The population is declining slowly due to habitat degradation and overharvesting.

Population trend
It is conserved within the Cederberg, Hexberg, Groot Winterhoek, Ceres Mountain, Ben Etive, Fonteintjiesberg, Haweqwa, Theewaters, Hottentot Holland, Riviersonderend, Marloth, Boosmansbos, Buffelspoort and Towerkop Nature Reserves.
Several distinct morphological types exist, but these have never been formally recognized. In some areas (e.g. Koo Langeberg) landowners are adamant that two or more variants co-exist without interbreeding. The taxonomy of the species deserves further attention given the status of P. magnifica as the prime market crop in the family.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea magnifica LinkLeast Concern 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.

Rebelo, A.G., Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2019. Protea magnifica Link. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/17

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Distribution map

© D. Turner

© D. Turner

© Outramps

© I. Ebrahim

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