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Interim Distribution Maps - KwaZulu-Natal Edition 1

Click here to go straight to the Distribution Maps.

January 1999

To date some 886 Sight Record Sheets have been sent in by 43 atlassers, amounting to 1 386 records of proteas. This is still far fewer than we should like to see, despite KwaZulu-Natal region having been targeted for atlassing talks, walks and visits in the past. If you know where proteas occur, please help us by atlassing them.

SRS have been submitted by these Atlassers.

Some 32 species of protea have been recorded from KwaZulu-Natal. Of these 8 are known only from planted specimens. We have 100 records for only 4 species: Protea caffra (451 records) is the most common and widespread protea in KwaZulu-Natal, followed by Pr roupelliae (371 records). We have no data at all for two species in KwaZulu-Natal: Pr parvula and Leucospermum gerrardii.

Invasive alien proteas include Hakea sericea (3 records), Grevillea banksii (1 record), and Grevillea robusta (0 records), but we have far too little data on these species. Please keep your eyes open for these invaders. Early detection means easy control!

Without doubt you know of areas where Proteas occur which are not shown on the maps. If you do, then you are aware of information that will help us to conserve our flora. Please join us, get your kits and send in the data. Every little item is useful and will be used. Nothing will be discarded. Your dots on the map are our key to knowledge and the conservation of our flora.

How to use these maps

These maps tell you where proteas have been recorded. The maps have three components:

  • The black dots show where our atlas data show the species to be present.
  • The hatched squares are the 1:50 000 maps for which herbarium data (main Pretoria National Herbarium, we will be updating our maps to include Natal herbaria soon) exist for the species.
  • Open circles (and occasional triangles) show where Elsa Pooley or other people have recorded the species.

The text alongside the species contains a brief description of the species (what to look for when identifying it), and a summary of where the species occurs and where we lack data, or where even the Protea Atlas data may be suspect. The ideal situation is where atlassers can use the maps to plan visits to the unatlassed areas and collect herbarium material from the queried atlas records.

When using these maps, please bear in mind the "coverage" shown opposite. Obviously, we cannot have data for areas which have never been visited. Ideally, Natalians should target these unatlassed areas - bearing in mind that there may be no proteas in these areas (look for herbarium records in the species maps and consult with friends and landowners).

If you are looking for a holiday venue, then perhaps you could visit those areas least recorded, or perhaps plan your journey through them. You may wish to see certain species, perhaps where they have been recorded, or better still where no atlas data exist. If you know of nearby population that has not been atlassed, or of a population which has no herbarium or atlas record, these areas could be chosen for your next hike/outing/picnic.

But you do not have to be a hiker (or rambler, mountaineer, mountain-biker, or four-wheeler) to enjoy atlassing. Roadside atlassing is also very fruitful and allows invaluable data to be collected rapidly. Most African species proteas can be seen near roads somewhere (you might have to climb above the Policeman’s Helmet to get that last elusive species for your "life list"). And since what we really need is lots of data on the common species, roadside atlassing is ideal for the unfit and less able (so no more excuses please!)

The next edition

We are never happy! We need more data. We need better maps. If you have any ideas as to how we can improve these maps for you, then please write in and tell us. After all, you are the users of these maps. Any suggestions will be most welcome!

KwaZulu-Natal Areas AtlassedThe map shows where our KwaZulu-Natal data have been collected. There are many large areas for which we have no data! This is your chance to make a mark! Please fill in the blanks.

We have some reasonable data for a few areas in the Berg foothills. However, these are centred on a few easy to get to places - many areas between have yet to be atlassed. Please fill in the gaps.

The northern Drakensberg from Ladismith to Newcastle and Vryheid are poorly atlassed, except at Itala Nature Reserve. More data would be appreciated. The area from Wakkerstroom to Vryheid appears to hold much promise - look out here for Protea parvula, Pr comptonii, Pr gaguedi, Faurea rochetiana and other scarce escarpment species which just make it into KwaZulu-Natal.

Southern KwaZulu-Natal is well atlassed at Port Edward and Ngele, but there is very little data from elsewhere! Please help: Port Shepstone is an important area, and it is hard to believe that there are no proteas around Matatiele.

The midlands are understandably underatlassed. And yet this is where Leucospermum gerrardii is supposed to occur. This species is unatlassed in KwaZulu-Natal and is symptomatic of the lack of data for a large area of the province.

Swaziland atlassers have recently picked up proteas in the Lebombo Mountains. Might the KwaZulu-Natal section also have some of these species (Pr gaguedi and Faurea saligna are the most likely candidates)?

There are also proteas on the east coast - please keep a look out for them.

Potential Problems

Young Pr caffra plants are very similar to Pr simplex. Although adult Pr caffra are trees, they need to grow large enough to survive fires. Thus young plants form an underground rootstock and produce many stems, which are burned down with every fire, until stems are thick enough to "escape" fires and thus grow up into trees. The moment one branch is thick enough, the other basal branches are shed and the plant assumes its tree-like habit. It thus differs from Pr simplex, which never grows into a tree, and its thin branches usually burn in every fire. The easiest way to distinguish the two species is by the very thin stems in Pr simplex, and the much thicker stems in Pr caffra. The stems in Pr caffra are often branched – seldom so in related species. Pr caffra may stay as a resprouter for decades until fire frequency and intensity allow escape into the tree form. Both differ from Pr parvula with its creeping stems laying flat on the ground.

Distribution Maps

Faurea macnaughtonii - Terblanz Beechwood
Faurea rochetiana - Broad-leaf Beechwood (= F. speciosa)
Faurea saligna - Transvaal Beechwood

Grevillea banksii
- Scarlet Silky Oak

Hakea salicifolia
- Willow Needlebush
Hakea sericea - Sweet Needlebush

Leucadendron spissifolium natalense - Natal Conebush
Leucadendron spissifolium oribinum - Oribi Conebush

Leucospermum gerrardii
- Soapstone Pincushion
Leucospermum innovans - Transkei Pincushion

Protea caffra caffra
- Highveld Sugarbush
Protea comptonii - Saddleback Sugarbush
Protea dracomontana - Alpine Sugarbush
Protea gaguedi - African Sugarbush
Protea nubigena - Cloud Sugarbush
Protea parvula - Dainty Sugarbush
Protea roupelliae roupelliae - Silver Sugarbush
Protea simplex - Dwarf Grassveld Sugarbush
Protea subvestita - Waterlily Sugarbush
Protea welwitschii - Dwarf Savanna Sugarbush

Have a look at Proteas and Fire in the KwaZulu-Natal province.

Key to The KwaZulu-Natal Species of Proteas


1a Habitat forests and forest margins. Flowerheads 160 mm long. Leaves 25-30mm broad. A tree to 25m tall. F. macnaughtonii TERBLANZ BEECHWOOD

1b Habitats variable: bushveld and escarpment. Trees 4-10 m tall. 2

2a Flowerheads 250-300 mm long. Leaves 25-60 mm broad, stalk short and thick, underside densely velvety when young. F. rochetiana BROAD-LEAF BEECHWOOD

2b Flowerheads 120-150 mm long. Florets not stalked. Leaves 13-20 mm broad, stalk 20 mm long F. saligna TRANSVAAL BEECHWOOD

Leucadendron CONEBUSHES

1. Fruit winged, greater than 5mm wide (Winged Seed or Sunshine Conebushes), stored in cones on plant. Plants resprouting with multiple stems. Leucadendron spissifolium SPEAR-LEAF CONEBUSH subspecies 2.

2a Leaves 8 mm broad, oblanceolate, similar in both sexes. Conspicuous involucre of acute, ivory-white bracts surrounds male heads Leucadendron spissifolium natalensis NATAL SPEAR-LEAF CONEBUSH

2b Leaves narrow, 3 mm / 4 mm broad, curved like a sickle. Involucre of bracts indistinct from stem leaves in male plants. Leucadendron spissifolium oribinum ORIBI SPEAR-LEAF CONEBUSH

Leucospermum PINCUSHIONS

1a Pollen presenter narrowly conical, indistinct from style. Leaves distinctly veined. Plants mat-like, to 0.4 m tall, with many stems from a rootstock. Leucospermum gerrardii SOBOLIFEROUS CYLINDRIC PINCUSHION

1b Pollen presenter broadly conical, distinct from style. Leaves 30-50 mm wide, 7-10 toothed. Stem bases smooth, many arising from a rootstock. Leucospermum innovans TRANSKEI CYLINDRIC PINCUSHION


Notes: Beware – young plants of tree forms are usually multi-stemmed before adopting the tree habit.

1a Flowerheads wine glass-shaped, involucral bracts erect with most of inner surface hidden during flowering 2

1b Flowerheads bowl-shaped, involucral bracts splayed to nearly horizontal with much of the inner surfaces clearly visible during flowering 3

2a Inner involucral bracts oval, not spoon-shaped nor bearded, curving outwards at the tips. Heads small: 50-70 mm long. Leaves 50-110 mm long, green. Protea subvestita LIPPED SUGARBUSH

2b Inner involucral bracts spoon-shaped, not bearded. Leaves 80-170 mm long, silver-haired or green-hairless, tightly clustered at ends of branches, no stalk. Plant erect, 3-8 m tall, with a single trunk. Protear. roupelliae SILVER SUGARBUSH

3a Stems hairless. 5

3b Stems hairy when young, maturing to sparsely hairy. 4


4a Involucral bracts with rusty-brown hairs on outer surface. Leaves hairy, occ. maturing to nearly hairless with hairs on midrib, 2-5 times longer than broad. Flowerheads often in clusters of 2-5. Otherwise very variable. Protea welwitzchii DWARF SAVANNA SUGARBUSH

4b Involucral bracts with silvery hairs on outer surface. Leaves slightly hairy when young, maturing to hairless, occ. Deciduous, 5-9 times longer than broad. Flowerheads usually solitary. Otherwise very variable, from shrub to tree Protea gaguedi AFRICAN SUGARBUSH

5a Shrub or tree, 1-8 m tall, erect or multi-stemmed from an underground rootstock. Flowerhead medium-sized: style 40-60 mm long. Leaves variable: 70-250 mm long, 4-45 mm wide. Involucral bracts white, cream, pink or red, short silvery-haired (rapidly shed) or hairless. Petals tips with dense tawny or white hairs, rapidly shed. Bark on old wood black, deeply fissured. Proteac. caffra COMMON SUGARBUSH

5b Trees 4-8 m tall, single-stemmed when mature. Flowerheads large: style 60-80 mm long. Outer involucral bracts hairless. Leaves 25-50 mm wide, occ. slightly curved, deep green, very woody. Involucral bracts greenish-white. Protea comptonii SADDLEBACK SUGARBUSH

5c Small shrubs less than 1 m tall (rarely to 1.5 m: Pr drac), multi-stemmed. Flowerheads small styles 20-40 mm long (45-60 mm: Pr drac). 6


6a Plants erect, highly branched from a single trunk. Leaves 40-60 mm long, 7-13 mm wide. Flowerheads small: styles 35-40 mm long. Protea nubigena CLOUD SUGARBUSH

6b Plants resprouting from a lignotuber, multi-stemmed. Stems sparsely branched, usually unbranched. Leaves 60-140 mm long. 7

7a Flowerhead medium-sized: style 45-60 mm long. Leaves 25-45 mm wide. Stems erect, unbranched,  5-10 mm diam. Protea dracomontana ALPINE SUGARBUSH

7b Flowerhead small: style 20-40 mm long. Leaves 7-30 mm wide. Stems erect, usually unbranched, 2-5 mm diam. Protea simplex DWARF GRASSVELD SUGARBUSH

7c Flowerhead small: style 30-35 mm long. Leaves 5-20 mm wide, secund (pointing upwards). Stems creeping, rarely erect, often branched, 2-4 mm diam. Protea parvula DAINTY SUGARBUSH

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