Scientific Name
Aloe prinslooi I.Verd. & D.S.Hardy
Higher Classification
National Status
Status and Criteria
Endangered B1ab(iii,v)+2ab(iii,v)
Assessment Date
H. Mtshali, J.E. Victor & E. van Wyk
Aloe prinslooi is a rare and localized species that is declining due to ongoing habitat loss and degradation, as well as illegal succulent collecting. Its extent of occurrence (EOO) is very uncertain, as its habitat remains poorly explored, but based on known localities is estimated to be 9-100 km². It is known from two locations, but it is possible that more exist.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
This species is endemic to the Tugela River Valley between Ladysmith and Muden in KwaZulu-Natal.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Thukela Valley Bushveld, KwaZulu-Natal Highland Thornveld
It occurs in dry, tall grassland and open woodland in transition communities between savanna and valley bushveld, 800-1500 m.
Illegal removal of plants from the wild by succulent collectors have caused the total decimation of subpopulations at known sites along the main road between Ladysmith and Muden. Although succulent collecting is still popular, A. prinslooi is available in cultivation and the threat of wild collecting is not as severe as in the past (Scott-Shaw 1999). Recent field observations indicate that plants are still collected from the wild. A. prinslooi occurs in high-lying grasslands, known as KwaZulu-Natal Highland Thornveld (Mucina and Rutherford 2006), with sparse occurrence of thorny Acacias. It also occur in transitional areas between these grasslands and more densely wooded valley bushveld (Scott-Shaw 1999) known as Thukela Valley Bushveld (Mucina and Rutherford 2006). Thukela Valley Bushveld is extensively degraded due to overgrazing and large areas are affected by severe erosion and complete destruction of the grass cover. Disturbed areas are also heavily invaded by alien invasive species such as Opuntia imbricata (prickly pear) as well as encroaching unpalatable native species such as Blepharis natalensis and Euphorbia pseudocactus (Mucina and Rutherford 2006). KwaZulu-Natal Highland Thornveld on the other hand is not as seriously threatened, with about 16% transformed to cultivation and urban areas (Mucina and Rutherford 2006). Urban expansion, specifically of informal settlements, is an ongoing threat especially around Colenso and Weenen (E. van Wyk, D. Styles pers. comm.). Bush encroachment under altered fire regimes as well as alien encroachment (Opuntia and Acacia) is another ongoing threat, especially in disturbed areas (Mucina and Rutherford 2006).

This species is known from only a few subpopulations, all situated along a 50 km stretch of road. It is possible that more, undiscovered subpopulations exist elsewhere in the Tugela Valley, and more field surveys are needed. The species is easily overlooked and tall grass, and is indistinguishable from other spotted aloes when not in flower. The population at known localities has been much reduced by illegal collection of wild succulents. Field observations of one subpopulation near Colenso in 2015 indicate that it is small, consisting of fewer than 1000 mature individuals. This subpopulation is threatened by habitat loss and degradation, and evidence of ongoing illegal harvesting was also found, and therefore continuous decline is inferred. Other records of this species dates from the 1960s, and it is not certain that it is still extant at these localities.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Aloe prinslooi I.Verd. & D.S.HardyNT A2eRaimondo et al. (2009)
Aloe prinslooi I.Verd. & D.S.HardyVU A1cdVictor (2002)
Aloe prinslooi I.Verd. & D.S.HardyLower Risk - Near Threatened Scott-Shaw (1999)
Aloe prinslooi I.Verd. & D.S.HardyRare Hilton-Taylor (1996)
Aloe prinslooi I.Verd. & D.S.HardyUncertain Hall et al. (1980)

Glen, H.F. and Hardy, D.S. 2000. Aloaceae (First part): Aloe. In: G. Germishuizen (ed). Flora of Southern Africa 5 Part 1, Fascicle 1:1-159. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

Hall, A.V., De Winter, M., De Winter, B. and Van Oosterhout, S.A.M. 1980. Threatened plants of southern Africa. South African National Scienctific Programmes Report 45. CSIR, Pretoria.

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

Mucina, L. and Rutherford, M.C. (eds). 2006. The vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Strelitzia 19. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

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.

Reynolds, G.W. 1969. The Aloes of South Africa. A.A. Balkema, Cape Town.

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

Smith, G.F., Steyn, E.M.A., Victor, J.E., Crouch, N.R., Golding, J.S. and Hilton-Taylor, C. 2000. Aloaceae: The conservation status of Aloe in South Africa: an updated synopsis. Bothalia 30(2):206-211.

Van Wyk, B.-E. and Smith, G.F. 2014. Guide to the Aloes of South Africa. (Third ed.). Briza Publications, Pretoria.

Verdoorn, I.C. and Hardy, D.S. 1965. Aloe prinslooi. Flowering Plants of Africa 37:t. 1453.

Victor, J.E. 2002. South Africa. In: J.S. Golding (ed), Southern African plant Red Data Lists. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report 14 (pp. 93-120), SABONET, Pretoria.

Mtshali, H., Victor, J.E. & van Wyk, E. 2018. Aloe prinslooi I.Verd. & D.S.Hardy. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2023/11/28

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Distribution map

© P. Joffe

© H. Mtshali

© H. Mtshali

© N.R. Crouch

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