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Biogeography in Southern Africa

About 360 species of proteas are distributed in southern Africa, of which over 330 species are confined to the Cape Floral Kingdom, stretching from Nieuwoudville in the northwest to Grahamstown in the east. Only four of the 14 genera occur outside the Cape Floral Kingdom: Faurea (with 9 species in total in Africa and Madacasgar excluding the 6 in southern Africa), Protea which has 35 species in tropical Africa; and Leucospermum and Leucadendron, each with 3 species or subspecies outside of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Six genera (Brabejum, Diastella, Orothamnus, Serruria, Sorocephalus, Vexatorella) do not occur much east of Mossel Bay. Protea Atlas Logo

The majority of species in the Cape Floral Kingdom are confined to nutrient-poor soils derived from Table Mountain Sandstone. A few species occur on limestone and calcareous sands, while very few species occur on dry shale-derived soils. More than two thirds of species are confined to the area west of 20oE (Cape Agulhas to Ceres). More spectacularly, more than 130 species occur in the Caledon Magisterial District alone.

There are proteas confined to most mountain ranges in the western Cape, and analysis of protea distributions reveals a clear delimitation of these ranges. The pattern is not so clear in the east where the most common species tend to be those which occur throughout the Cape Floral Kingdom. Have a look at Species Richness.

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