|Bot River Protea
|Proteaceae (Protea Family)
|Pink to Mauve
Bot River Protea (Sugarbush)
Protea compacta, also known as the
Bot River protea, was not taken seriously by early botanists and plant
collectors. The seeds were first collected in 1789 near Bot River by Francis
Masson, hence the common name Bot River Protea. It flowered within the next few
years at Kew Gardens.
Bot River protea is commonly found
between sea level and 100m. These plants usually grow in dense stands in a
relatively narrow zone from Kleinmond, Houw Hoek, Hermanus, Elim, Napier, and Bredasdorp
to Struisbaai. Populations mostly occur on the foothills of mountains that are
close to the sea, coastal forelands and sandy flats near the sea. We are
fortunate to have a growing colony and a few individuals on the smallholding
road between Rooiels and Pringle Bay.
The flowerheads of the Bot River
protea measure between 90-120mm long and approximately 60mm wide. They have
pink bracts that are fringed with hairs. After flowering, the seed heads remain
on the plant until a veld fire. It is important to refrain from picking the flowers since they provide nectar for insects and birds. The seed heads
should remain on the plant until after a veld fire, when they burst open and drop the seeds.
Following the 2017 veld fire, we
observed a mat of seeds lying thick on the ground, which were scattered all over
the area by the wind. The welcome winter rains that followed resulted in many
seedlings. It is a joy to see them now flowering six years later.
The Bot River protea is Near
Threatened due to habitat loss.