Scientific Name
Disperis woodii Bolus
Higher Classification
Disperis stenoglossa Schltr.
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)
Assessment Date
L. von Staden
Disperis woodii is a widespread, but rare and localized species, with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 76 783 km², but an area of occupancy (AOO) of only 50-100 km². It is currently known from four extant locations, but it is possible that a few more exist in unexplored habitat along the Eastern Cape coast, as well as in protected areas on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast where it is known from historical records. This species continues to decline across its range due to ongoing habitat loss and degradation.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal
This species occurs along the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape coastal areas from Kosi Bay to Port Elizabeth. It possibly also occurs in southern Mozambique.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Belt Grassland, Algoa Sandstone Fynbos, South Eastern Coastal Thornveld, KwaZulu-Natal Sandstone Sourveld, KwaZulu-Natal Hinterland Thornveld, Moist Coast Hinterland Grassland, Dry Coast Hinterland Grassland, KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Belt Thornveld, Transkei Coastal Belt, Pondoland-Ugu Sandstone Coastal Sourveld, Maputaland Coastal Belt, Hamburg Dune Thicket
It occurs in damp grassland, usually in open places with sandy soils, sometimes within grass tussocks, from sea level to 800 m.
Urban expansion and coastal development is the main cause of loss of historical locations along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, and around East London in the Eastern Cape. Large proportions of its habitat has been converted to sugarcane plantations along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, where very little coastal grasslands remain intact. Inland from Durban, and around Port Elizabeth, remaining subpopulations continue to be threatened by habitat loss to urban expansion.

This is a widespread, but very rare and localized species, occurring as small, scattered subpopulations. It is known from about 20 historical locations, but at seven of these it was last recorded more than 100 years ago and is presumed extinct. Field surveys recorded three remaining locations in KwaZulu-Natal and one in the Eastern Cape, but this very small, cryptic species is easily overlooked. Intact habitat remains in botanically poorly explored areas of the Eastern Cape Coast between East London and Port Edward, where it is known from two historical records. The population continues to decline due to ongoing habitat loss and degradation.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Disperis woodii BolusDeclining Raimondo et al. (2009)
Disperis woodii BolusLower Risk - Least Concern Victor (2002)
Disperis woodii BolusNot Threatened Hilton-Taylor (1996)
Disperis woodii BolusIndeterminate Hall et al. (1980)
Disperis stenoglossa Schltr.Indeterminate Hall et al. (1980)

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.

Linder, H.P. and Kurzweil, H. 1999. Orchids of southern Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam.

Manning, J.C. 1990. Taxonomic notes on Disperis (Orchidaceae) in South Africa. South African Journal of Botany 56(4):493-496.

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.

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.

von Staden, L. 2018. Disperis woodii Bolus. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2023/11/28

Comment on this assessment Comment on this assessment
Distribution map

© G. Nichols

© G. Nichols

© G. Nichols

Search for images of Disperis woodii on iNaturalist