Red Beech

Scientific Name
Protorhus longifolia (Bernh.) Engl.
Higher Classification
Rhus longifolia (Bernh.) Sond.
Common Names
Harpuisboom (a), Ikhubalo (x), Isifice (z), Isifico-sehlathi (z), Isifuce (x), Isifuze (z), Mutu-musolde (v), Purple Currant (e), Red Beech (e), Red Cape Beech (e), Rooibeukeblaar (a), Rooibeukehout (a), Rooiboekenhout (a), Rooimelkhout (e), Rooimelkhout (a), Umhlangothi (z), Umhluthi (z), Umhluthi (x), Umhluthi-wezinja (x), Umkhambathi (x), Umkhumiso (x), Umkhumizo (z), Umkomiso (x), Umphuza (z), Umuthibomvu (z), Unhlangothi (z), Uzintlwa (x)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
V.L. Williams, D. Raimondo, N.R. Crouch, A.B. Cunningham, C.R. Scott-Shaw, M. Lötter & A.M. Ngwenya
A widespread and common species that is not in danger of extinction.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga
Widespread across eastern South Africa and Swaziland.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Forest, Indian Ocean Coastal Belt, Savanna
Forest, forest margins, rock outcrops and riparian vegetation.
Bark is harvested for medicinal purposes and sold in the various muti markets in the country. The demand varies: Cunningham (1988) estimated that >29 bags of bark were sold annually in the Durban markets by 54 herb-traders, but its conservation status was indeterminate; in Johannesburg, <12% of muti shop traders and Faraday market traders sold the species and the volumes present in the market were low (Williams 2007). In the Eastern Cape, however, Dold and Cocks (2002) reported the species to be the 7th most frequently sold plant part with 47% of traders selling the species. Furthermore, the volume sold was estimated to be 2700kg/annum (valued at R72,600) and that it was heavily traded and unsustainably harvested at the study sites investigated (Dold and Cocks 2002).

This species is quite common in Mpumalanga, where the impact of bark harvesting is not severe. It is also still common in KwaZulu-Natal, where subpopulations appear to be maintained by healthy recruitment.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Protorhus longifolia (Bernh.) Engl.Least Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)

Boon, R. 2010. Pooley's Trees of eastern South Africa. Flora and Fauna Publications Trust, Durban.

Cunningham, A.B. 1988. An investigation of the herbal medicine trade in Natal/KwaZulu. Investigational Report No. 29. Institute of Natural Resources, Pietermaritzburg.

Dold, A.P. and Cocks, M.L. 2002. The trade in medicinal plants in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 98:589-597.

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.

Schmidt, E., Lotter, M. and McCleland, W. 2002. Trees and shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park. Jacana, Johannesburg.

Williams, V.L. 2007. The design of a risk assessment model to determine the impact of the herbal medicine trade on the Witwatersrand on resources of indigenous plant species. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Williams, V.L., Raimondo, D., Crouch, N.R., Cunningham, A.B., Scott-Shaw, C.R., Lötter, M. & Ngwenya, A.M. 2020. Protorhus longifolia (Bernh.) Engl. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2022/08/16

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Distribution map

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