Rabbit-paw Sceptre

Scientific Name
Paranomus lagopus (Thunb.) Salisb.
Higher Classification
Nivenia lagopus (Thunb.) R.Br.
Common Names
Rabbit-paw Sceptre (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Near Threatened B1ab(iii,iv,v)+2ab(iii,iv,v)
Assessment Date
A.G. Rebelo, H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Paranomus lagopus is a range-restricted, but locally common species. It has an Extent of Occurrence of 3320 km², and an Area of Occupancy of 740 km², but occurs at more than 10 locations. It is declining due to ongoing habitat loss outside protected areas, and therefore nearly meets the thresholds for Vulnerable under criterion B.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
Paranomus lagopus has a limited distribution range in the mountains around the Olifants River Valley in the Western Cape, where it occurs from the Swartberg south of Clanwilliam to the Koue Bokkeveld and Groot Winterhoek Mountains. An isolated subpopulation occurs in the Voëlvlei and Elandskloof Mountains south of the Nuwekloof Pass between Gouda and Tulbagh.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Winterhoek Sandstone Fynbos, Cederberg Sandstone Fynbos, Olifants Sandstone Fynbos, Graafwater Sandstone Fynbos, Hawequas Sandstone Fynbos
It occurs in sandy places in sandstone fynbos, 200-1500 m. 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 and fire. It is pollinated by insects.
It is threatened by ongoing habitat loss to rooibos tea cultivation in the Olifants River Mountains north of Piekenierskloof Pass. The majority of this species' habitat is however protected, and habitat loss affects only about 14-20% of the population. Field observations also noted alien invasive plants present at one locality.

P. lagopus is common within its range, and typically occurs in dense isolated stands, less frequently as scattered individuals. A continuing decline is inferred from ongoing habitat loss outside protected areas, but rate of loss is unlikely to exceed 5% in three generations. As around 70-80% of the population occurs within protected areas, it is unlikely that overall population reduction will ever be more than 30%.

Population trend
Paranomus lagopus is easily confused with P. bracteolaris in the northern part of its range. Further taxonomic study is needed.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Paranomus lagopus (Thunb.) Salisb.Least Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)

Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J.C. 2000. Cape Plants: A conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.

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., Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2019. Paranomus lagopus (Thunb.) Salisb. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2023/12/03

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Distribution map

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