Scientific Name
Conophytum turrigerum (N.E.Br.) N.E.Br.
Higher Classification
Mesembryanthemum turrigerum N.E.Br.
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable B1ab(v)+2ab(v)
Assessment Date
A.J. Young, J.E. Victor, S.A. Hammer & D. Raimondo
A rare and highly localized specialist occurring in the Swartland region of the Western Cape South Africa. It is known from between eight and ten locations and has an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 1106 km² and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 64 km². There is ongoing decline in the number of mature individuals taking place as a result of illegal harvesting to serve the large demand for Conophytums from Asian countries. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable under criterion B.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
information redacted, contact SANBI
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Moss and lichen-covered cracks and depressions where rainwater collects on exposed granite rocks.
Some subpopulations are threatened by illegal collection for the succulent trade, there has been a marked increase in demand for Conophytums since March 2019. In the past one subpopulation is known to have been lost to quarrying, but there are no quarries nearby most of the remaining extant subpopulations, and no current indication of rapid expansion of granite extraction. Fynbos and renosterveld surrounding some of the subpopulations is infested with alien invasive plants, but alien plants are unlikely to establish in the shallow soil pockets on exposed granite rocks where this species grows.

Conophytum turrigerum is a highly localized habitat specialist. It most often occurs in small clumps of fewer than 200 plants within suitable habitat, which is often limited in extent, and many subpopulations are isolated. It is somewhat more common on larger granite outcrops such as Paarl Mountain and the Paardeberg, where recent field surveys recorded a number of previously undocumented subpopulations. The population size is estimated to be at least 2000 mature individuals. The population is declining due to illegal harvesting.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Conophytum turrigerum (N.E.Br.) N.E.Br.Rare Raimondo et al. (2009)
Conophytum turrigerum (N.E.Br.) N.E.Br.Not Threatened Hilton-Taylor (1996)

Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J.C. 2000. Cape Plants: A conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.

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.

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

Manning, J.C. and Goldblatt, P. 2012. Plants of the Greater Cape Floristic Region 1: The Core Cape Flora. Strelitzia 29. 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.

Young, A.J., Victor, J.E., Hammer, S.A. & Raimondo, D. 2020. Conophytum turrigerum (N.E.Br.) N.E.Br. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2023/12/08

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Distribution map

© C. Burgers

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