Scientific Name
Begonia dregei Otto & A.Dietr.
Higher Classification
Begonia natalensis Hook., Begonia richardsiana T.Moore, Begonia suffruticosa Meisn.
Common Names
Idlula (z), Wild Begonia (e), Wildebegonia (a)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Endangered C2a(i)
Assessment Date
V.L. Williams, N.R. Crouch, T. McLellan & L. von Staden
Population size is estimated to be <2500 mature individuals and no single subpopulation is estimated to have more than 250 plants. These estimates are derived from counts of 12 subpopulations at sites across the range, where the maximum subpopulation size was 100. Its caudices are used for traditional medicine and have been recorded occasionally in the KwaZulu-Natal traditional medicine markets. Small subpopulations are declining due to destructive harvesting.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal
East London to Durban.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Northern Coastal Forest, Scarp Forest, Southern Mistbelt Forest
Rocky cliffs, steep earth banks and among rocks in forest below 600 m.
Begonia dregei caudices are used for traditional medicine and have been recorded occasionally in the KwaZulu-Natal traditional medicine markets (Von Ahlefeldt et al. 2003). The species is very similar to Begonia homonyma, hence it is probable that the quantities that Cunningham (1988) recorded (estimated to be 54 bags per annum between 54 traders in the KwaZulu-Natal region) also apply to B. dregei. It is might be traded in the Johannesburg markets as well, but a positive identification of the plants has not been made thus far (V.L. Williams, pers. obs., 2008). While declines have probably occurred due to harvesting for the traditional medicine trade, the extent and time-frame are not known.

From the 12 subpopulations counted by Matolweni et al. (2000), there are an average of 48.5 plants per subpopulation and 64.7 plants per Quarter Degree Square (QDS) surveyed. The maximum number of plants per subpopulation was 100. Hence, the total population size in the nine QDSs in which this species is known to occur is expected to be <1000 plants. The plants counted by Matolweni probably included juveniles, hence the total number of mature plants is also expected to be less than 1000.

Population trend
Nkandla, Ngoye, Entumeni, Kranstzkloof, Vernon Crookes Oribi George, Umtamvuna, Mkambati Nature reserves.
Taxonomy: Tracy McClellan from the University of the Witwatersrand recognises Begonia homonyma and B. dregei as separate, but closely related, species with high levels of variation among subpopulations in the shape of the leaves (Matolweni et al. 2000). Allozyme data, however provides no support for the recognition of B. dregei and B. homonyma as distinct species. However, according to Neil Crouch, there are enough morphological differences between the two species to be able to separate them. Distribution data in this assessment is based on specimens identified by Neil Crouch, Tracy McClellan and Vivienne Williams.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Begonia dregei Otto & A.Dietr.EN C2a(i)Raimondo et al. (2009)
Begonia dregei Otto & A.Dietr.Lower Risk - Near Threatened Scott-Shaw (1999)
Begonia dregei Otto & A.Dietr.Rare Hilton-Taylor (1996)

Cunningham, A.B. 1988. An investigation of the herbal medicine trade in Natal/KwaZulu. Investigational Report No. 29. Institute of Natural Resources, Pietermaritzburg.

Hilliard, O.M. 1976. Begoniaceae. In: J.H. Ross (ed). Flora of Southern Africa 22:136-144. Botanical Research Institute, Pretoria.

Hilton-Taylor, C. 1996. Red data list of southern African plants. Strelitzia 4. South African National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

Matolweni, L.O., Balkwill, K. and McLellan, T. 2000. Genetic diversity and gene flow in the morphologically variable, rare endemics Begonia dregei and Begonia homonyma (Begoniaceae). American Journal of Botany 87(3):431-439.

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.

Scott-Shaw, C.R. 1999. Rare and threatened plants of KwaZulu-Natal and neighbouring regions. KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service, Pietermaritzburg.

Victor, J.E. and Dold, A.P. 2003. Threatened plants of the Albany Centre of Floristic Endemism, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 99:437-446.

Von Ahlefeldt, D., Crouch, N.R., Nichols, G., Symmonds, R., McKean, S., Sibiya, H. and Cele, M.P. 2003. Medicinal plants traded on South Africa's eastern seabord. Porcupine Press, Durban.

Williams, V.L., Crouch, N.R., McLellan, T. & von Staden, L. 2008. Begonia dregei Otto & A.Dietr. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2022/05/20

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Distribution map

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