Kamiesberg Sugarbush

Scientific Name
Protea namaquana Rourke
Higher Classification
Common Names
Kamiesberg Sugarbush (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Critically Endangered A2c; B1ab(iii,v)
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, D. Raimondo, L. von Staden & I. Ebrahim
Protea namaquana is restricted to the Kamiesberg Mountains of South Africa and has an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 38 km² and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 36 km². The population continues to decline at one location due to too frequent fires. Apparently common on these mountains in the 1970s the population currently consists of fewer than 300 plants, a decline of over 80% is suspected to have taken place in the past three generations (generation length 20-25 years). It therefore qualifies for listing as Critically Endangered under criteria A and B.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Northern Cape
This species is known from Namaqualand, Kamiesberg, in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Kamiesberg Granite Fynbos
It occurs on upper granite slopes, at altitudes of 1200-1600 m.a.s.l. 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 and insects.
This reseeding species is severely threatened by fire, particularly fire frequency and time of burning. The area is being regularly burnt to promote grazing for livestock. Observations over the past 30 years note that there are very low levels of seedling regeneration. The severe drought that took place in the western part of the country between 2016 and 2020 is also likely to have caused population declines.

There are two subpopulations remaining at one location, the first occurs on the slopes of Ezelkop where 200 plants in one small patch were recorded in 1998 and a further 50 plants were noted to have died. This subpopulation has not been monitored for the past 22 years and is suspected to have declined further. The second subpopulation is on the Rooiberg and consists of stands of plants on the summit and others on the flats to the west of the summit. The stand on the summit declined from 50 plants in 1992 to 15 plants in 2004. Apparently hundreds of plants occurred on the summit in the 1970s and have been decimated by too-frequent fires lit to enhance grazing (P. Linder, pers. comm.). On the flats of Rooiberg on Welcome farm the stands have declined from several hundred plants in 2002 to between 50 and 100 in 2018. The population has declined by more than 80% since 1970 a three generation time period, and decline is ongoing.

Population trend
It is not currently conserved in any formally protected area.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protea namaquana RourkeCR B1ab(v)c(iv)+2ab(v)c(iv)Raimondo et al. (2009)
Protea namaquana RourkeEndangered Hilton-Taylor (1996)

Hilton-Taylor, C. 1996. Red data list of southern African plants. Strelitzia 4. South African National Botanical 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., Raimondo, D., von Staden, L. & Ebrahim, I. 2020. Protea namaquana Rourke. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/17

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Distribution map

© C. Paterson-Jones

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