Scientific Name
Conophytum pageae (N.E.Br.) N.E.Br.
Higher Classification
Conophytum aequatum L.Bolus, Conophytum breve N.E.Br. var. minutiflorum (Schwantes) Rawé, Conophytum breve N.E.Br. var. swanepoelii Rawé in hort., Conophytum calculus (A.Berger) N.E.Br. var. protusum L.Bolus, Conophytum conformale N.E.Br. on drawing at K!, Conophytum forresteri L.Bolus, Conophytum johannis-winkleri (Dinter & Schwantes) N.E.Br., Conophytum labiatum Tischer, Conophytum longipetalum L.Bolus, Conophytum minutiflorum (Schwantes) N.E.Br., Conophytum oripictum N.E.Br. on drawing at K!, Conophytum pageae (N.E.Br.) N.E.Br. var. albiflorum Rawé, Conophytum pauperae L.Bolus, Conophytum poellnitzianum Schwantes, Conophytum productum L.Bolus, Conophytum schickianum Tischer, Conophytum subrisum (N.E.Br.) N.E.Br., Conophytum tenuisectum L.Bolus, Conophytum thudichumi L.Bolus, Conophytum udabibense Loesch & Tischer, Conophytum victoris Lavis, Conophytum villetii L.Bolus, Mesembryanthemum johannis-winkleri Dinter & Schwantes, Mesembryanthemum minutiflorum (Schwantes) Schwantes, Mesembryanthemum pageae N.E.Br., Mesembryanthemum subrisum N.E.Br.
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable A3c+4d
Assessment Date
A.J. Young, P.G. Desmet, I. Ebrahim, D. Guo, A. Harrower, L. Jabar, L. Knoetze, C. Rodgerson, P.C.V. Van Wyk & N.N. Mhlongo
This dwarf succulent is endemic to the Western Cape and Northern Cape province of South Africa and the Karas region of Namibia. It has an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 56,463 km2 and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 860 km2. This species has been increasingly targeted by illegal collection in recent years and some forms of the species are in especially high demand by collectors through the international trade in ornamental succulents. Substantial numbers of mature individuals have been illegally collected since 2019 and the continued threat of illegal collection remains extremely high, with the possibility that some subpopulations may be subject to very rapid decline due to this activity. The wide geographic distribution and large population size will likely limit declines to between 30 and 45% of the population within the next three generations (90 years). In addition, a 44% decline in the population is suspected by 2080 as a result of climate change. This species therefore qualifies as Vulnerable under criteria A3 and A4.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
Northern Cape, Western Cape
This species has the largest geographic distribution within the genus with subpopulations distributed from the Western Cape of South Africa through much of Namaqualand in the Northern Cape province to isolated mountains in the Karas region of southern Namibia. It is one of a small number of taxa in the genus that crosses the Orange River.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Desert, Fynbos, Nama Karoo, Succulent Karoo
This species is primarily found in the Succulent Karoo biome but is also present in the Desert, Fynbos and Nama-Karoo biomes. This succulent predominates in the Richtersveld and Namaqualand Hardeveld bioregions where it is widespread across many vegetation units. The plants are found growing on many rock types but is usually associated with granite, often in the presence of moss and/or lichen. This species has a generation length of 30 years. It is expected to be sensitive to the impacts of climate change as it does not disperse and while adapted to arid conditions, is dependent on limited seasonal rainfall. Species in the genus are sensitive to long periods of drought. Drought related mortality has been observed for other closely related taxa within the genus.
This species has been subject to illegal collection for the international trade in ornamental succulents since 2019 with approx. 100,000 mature individuals confiscated from poachers between 2019 and 2021. This species has been amongst the most highly sought after taxon in the genus by collectors since 2019 and is highly likely to remain so in future. The large and widespread population may limit the overall impact and as a result a population decline of 30-45% is suspected over three generations (90 years) due to this activity. No overall loss of vegetation cover as inferred from changes in Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) between 1984 and 2018 using Landsat data (Venter et al. 2020) has been observed across the localities for this species, however anthropogenic climate change is a long-term threat to this species. Climate models for best case emission scenarios where emissions stay at present day levels (RCP 2.6) and worst case scenarios where emissions continue to increase during the 21st century (RCP 8.5) indicate that there will be a loss of suitable bioclimatic envelope of between 64% and 98% by 2080. However, as this species possesses certain morphological traits likely to afford resilience to xerophytic conditions and is found across several vegetation units it is expected to have a level of resilience to climate change and the expected population loss is reduced by 20% to 44%. Species in this genus have limited dispersal ability and migration to suitable habitats elsewhere is regarded as highly unlikely.

This is a widespread species known from large numbers of subpopulations across its range. It is often locally abundant but sometimes occurs as scattered individuals. There are no formal estimates of population size for this species but the number of mature individuals is well in excess of 1,000,000. The population is in decline due to illegal collection for the ornamental succulent plant trade. At least 96,000 plants have been removed from habitat between 2019 and the end of 2021 based on confiscation records, with many more having likely been removed but not intercepted by law enforcers.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Conophytum pageae (N.E.Br.) N.E.Br.Least Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)

Hammer, S. 2002. Dumpling and his wife: New view of the genus Conophytum. EAE Creative Colour, Norwich.

Hammer, S.A. 1993. The genus Conophytum: A conograph. Succulent Plant Publications, Pretoria.

Opel, M.R. 2004. The rediscovery of Crassula alcicornis. Haseltonia 10:38-40.

Young, A.J., Desmet, P.G., Ebrahim, I., Guo, D., Harrower, A., Jabar, L., Knoetze, L., Rodgerson, C., Van Wyk, P.C.V. & Mhlongo, N.N. 2021. Conophytum pageae (N.E.Br.) N.E.Br. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/07/14

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Distribution map

© A.J. Young

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