Scientific Name
Stapeliopsis pillansii (N.E.Br.) Bruyns
Higher Classification
Pectinaria pillansii N.E.Br.
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
D. Raimondo
An endemic species to the eastern Karoo Basin (extent of occurrence 17 489 km²) that occurs as isolated, widely scattered plants. It is not suspected to be declining and is therefore listed as Least Concern.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape
Great Karoo, from west of Rietbron sporadically eastwards to near Somerset East, Pearston and Jansenville.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Nama Karoo
Low stony ridges or flat gravelly areas under small shrubs.
This species is not likely to be threatened as its habit of growing under asteraceous shrubs protects it from the impacts of livestock farming the main land-use within its range. It does however occur on karroid flats vulnerable to future shale gas fracking. Large-scale shale gas fracking was proposed in 2015 for the Karoo basin covering the majority of this species' range. Subpopulations on flats would be most vulnerable to habitat loss to infrastructure development related to fracking, and this species would decline in future if fracking goes ahead. A Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment submitted to South Africa's Department of Environment Affairs in 2016 cautioned against moving ahead with Shale Gas fracking based on the very high infrastructure costs associated with fracking as well as multiple secondary negative impacts both to biodiversity and other economic activities in the region. Furthermore geological studies that have taken place since 2016 have found that gas deposits are not as substantial as originally suspected due to the very old age of the Karroo shale formations and the dolerite intrusions that occur throughout the Karoo having resulted in much of the gas being lost. At present, future development scenarios are too uncertain to estimate the potential extent of the impact on the population but it is unlikely that shale gas fracking will proceed in the near future.

It occurs as scattered individuals beneath long-lived karoo shrubs, the population size is thus difficult to estimate. There are few recent collections however this is a cryptic species easy to miss during surveys.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Stapeliopsis pillansii (N.E.Br.) BruynsLeast Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)
Stapeliopsis pillansii (N.E.Br.) BruynsRare Hilton-Taylor (1996)

Bruyns, P.V. 2005. Stapeliads of southern Africa and Madagascar. (Vol. 2, pp. 331-606). Umdaus Press, Pretoria.

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

Raimondo, D. 2019. Stapeliopsis pillansii (N.E.Br.) Bruyns. 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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