Swartberg Sugarbush

Scientific Name
Protea montana E.Mey. ex Meisn.
Higher Classification
Common Names
Swartberg Sugarbush (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable B1ab(iii,v)+2ab(iii,v)
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Protea montana has a restricted distribution range, with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 2 892 km², and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 188 km². It is known from seven to nine locations. Subpopulations are small and continue to decline due to ongoing habitat degradation from competition with alien invasive plants and inappropriate fire management. It is potentially vulnerable to climate-change. Therefore it assessed as Vulnerable under criterion B.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
This species is endemic to South Africa, and has a limited distribution range in the Swartberg and Kammanassie Mountains of the Western Cape Province.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Swartberg Altimontane Sandstone Fynbos, South Kammanassie Sandstone Fynbos, North Kammanassie Sandstone Fynbos, South Swartberg Sandstone Fynbos, North Swartberg Sandstone Fynbos
It occurs in sandstone fynbos at high altitudes on summits and steep south-facing slopes, 1400-2100 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 rodents.
As a reseeder, Protea montana is threatened by too frequent fires throughout its range. Recent field observations recorded a lack of effective fire management as well as the presence of alien invasive plants in low densities in the Kammanassie and Swartberg Mountains. Climate change models predicted that it could decline by at least 30% by 2025 (Bomhard et al. 2005), but no such drastic population declines have yet been observed. It remains potentially vulnerable to climate change.

It is known from a 161 km-long range in the Swartberg and Kammanassie Mountains. The majority of subpopulations are small in size. The largest subpopulation extends over a 32 km range on Groot Swartberg with over 10 000 plants. Too frequent fires are reducing sizes of subpopulations (Vlok, pers. obs.). Monitoring is required to evaluate the extent of this threat.

Population trend
It occurs within the Towerkop, Groot Swartberg and Swartberg East Nature Reserves. The Kammanassie subpopulation is on the border of the Kammanassie Nature Reserve.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea montana E.Mey. ex Meisn.VU A3c+4c; B1ab(iv)+2ab(iv)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.

Vlok, J. and Schutte-Vlok, A.L. 2010. Plants of the Klein Karoo. Umdaus Press, Hatfield.

Rebelo, A.G., Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2020. Protea montana E.Mey. ex Meisn. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/17

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Distribution map

© J.H. Vlok/A.L. Schutte-Vlok

© Outramps

© Outramps

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