Protea dracomontana, the Drakensberg dwarf sugarbush, is a shrub reaching 1,5 m in height and 1 m in diameter. The branched stems are reddish, growing from a large, underground rootstock. The plant was only recognised as a distinct species during the 1960s.
The leaves are leathery with cartilaginous margins. Leaves are from 8 cm to 14 cm long and from 2,5 cm to 4,5 cm wide.
The cup-shaped flowerheads are short, spreading widely. The involucral bracts are round-tipped and hairless with fringed margins. Flowerhead colour is creamy white to pink or carmine red. They are from 4 cm to 6 cm in diameter. The styles are up to 6 cm long. Flowering happens from before midsummer to early autumn.
This summer rainfall Protea is restricted to high elevations along the eastern escarpment, found in the southeast of KwaZulu-Natal, the eastern extreme of the Free State and Lesotho.
The habitat is sub-alpine Themeda or rooigras grassland, between altitudes of 1600 m and 2200 m, mostly on basalt. The plant may appear in dense stands on its home ground. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century.
P. dracomontana is dependent upon sporadic fires for well-being in its habitat, like fynbos plants. Should no burning occur for too long, flowering diminishes or stops. The plants become static, lose leaves and assume "a moribund appearance".
P. caffra, a widespread species of also lower Drakensberg slopes, tends to hybridise with P. dracomontana (Manning, 2009; Pooley, 1998; Rourke, 1980; http://redlist.sanbi.org).