Scientific Name
Serruria foeniculacea R.Br.
Higher Classification
National Status
Status and Criteria
Endangered D
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, D. Raimondo & D. Gibbs
Serruria foeniculaceae is endemic to moist habitat on the Cape Flats in the City of Cape Town, this species was thought to be extinct in the 1970s and 1980s but four plants were discovered in 1989 and from these four plants extensive ex situ propagation and reintroduction work has taken place. This species now has two viable subpopulations, at two locations, that are able to independently recruit following fire. The extent of occurrence (EOO) and area of occupancy (AOO) is 16 km². The population consists of between 150 and 200 mature individuals and is increasing based on ongoing reintroduction and habitat restoration efforts. It therefore qualifies for listing as Endangered under criterion D.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
This species is restricted to the Cape Flats, on the Cape Peninsula in the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Cape Flats Sand Fynbos
It occurs in Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, in moist conditions. Mature individuals are killed by fires, and only seeds survive. Seeds are released after ripening, and dispersed by ants to their underground nests, where they are protected from predation by rodents and germinate following fire. It is pollinated by insects.
The majority of this species' habitat has been transformed to urban development for the City of Cape Town over the past 200 years. It was thought to be extinct in the 1970s and 1980s but four plants were discovered in 1989. Cuttings were taken and propagated and hundreds of plants have since been planted out into small remnants of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos. The small size of the population from which other individuals have been propagated means that this species may suffer from inbreeding depression. A further threat is alien invasive plants which are currently constantly cleared from the last remaining fragments where this species has been planted. Invasive ants which displace indigenous ants and do not perform the role of storing seeds below the ground are another potential threat to this species. Currently intensive and ongoing management by conservation officials from the City of Cape Town, South African National Parks (SANParks) and volunteers from the public means that the remnant fragments are improving in condition and this species numbers are increasing.

Thought to be extinct in the 1970s and 1980s, four mature individuals were found in 1989 at Rondevlei Nature Reserve. Cuttings from these four plants have been grown and extensive supplementing of the original population and reintroduction to new locations has taken place. The Rondevlei subpopulation has been supplemented with cultivated plants. First, 45 plants were planted in 1992 and a further 300 individuals were planted in the early 2000s. This subpopulation has burnt twice since the first plantings took place and has successfully recruited from viable seed following both fires. The current population consists of between 120 and 150 plants and is producing viable seed. A second reintroduction has taken place at Tokai in the open section of the Table Mountain National Park. Some 500 plants were planted in four patches in 2007-2008. One patch was subsequently removed as it was planted too close to another species Serruria glomerata. Given that its natural habitat was not well known at the time of planting many planted individuals died in areas that were either too dry or too wet. Following fire in the northern portion of this fragment, between 30 and 50 plants have successfully recruited and are setting seeds. Two other reintroductions have taken place one at Edith Stevens Nature Reserve where only six plants were planted in 2004, it is not known if these have survived, ongoing reintroduction efforts have been stopped here as this area may be outside of the original historic range of the species. A third reintroduction is currently taking place at Princess Vlei, five plants were planted in 2019 all have survived and flowered, between 150 and 200 plants will be planted in 2020, and a further 1500 in 2021. The total population of wild mature individuals now consists of between 150 and 200 plants, the population is increasing due to ongoing habitat restoration and reintroduction interventions.

Population trend
Taxonomic notes: Plants tend to be longer-leaved and more sprawling than the closely related Serruria aemula. This species is very closely related to S. aemula and possibly a subspecies - genetic relatedness within the group is being tested. Nevertheless, care must be taken not to mix the genotypes with reintroduction work.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Serruria foeniculacea R.Br.CR A2c; B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)c(iv)+2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)c(iv); C2a(i,ii)b; DRaimondo et al. (2009)
Serruria foeniculacea R.Br.Endangered Hilton-Taylor (1996)

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. & Gibbs, D. 2020. Serruria foeniculacea R.Br. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/06/14

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Distribution map

© C. Paterson-Jones

© C. Paterson-Jones

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