Conophytum danielii

Scientific Name
Conophytum danielii Pavelka
Higher Classification
Conophytum jarmilae Halda
National Status
Status and Criteria
Critically Endangered A3d
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
This succulent is endemic to the Northern Cape province of South Africa where it is only recorded from a single locality with an extent of occurrence (EOO) and area of occupancy (AOO) of 4 km². The dwarf succulents that comprise this genus have been increasingly targeted by illegal collection in recent years and the vast majority of species are in high demand by collectors. Whilst there is no evidence of illegal collection at the time of this submission, closely related species, including some from the immediate area, have been illegally removed from habitat with a dramatic increase in the number of species and volume of plants targeted since 2019. The threat of illegal collection is therefore regarded as very high for this particular species. Given its single location and small population size a complete decline of up to 100% of the population is likely within the next 10 years. Climate change is also highly likely to impact the population although there is uncertainty of the response given the expected resilience of this taxon. It therefore qualifies as Critically Endangered under criterion A3.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Northern Cape
This species is endemic to a small area of the Northern Cape province of South Africa where it is only recorded from a single location.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Platbakkies Succulent Shrubland
This species is found in the Namaqualand Hardeveld bioregion of the Succulent Karoo biome. It is restricted to a single small hill in a remote area. 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 particular species is not currently threatened by illegal collection but it is likely that it will likely become a target in coming years as there has been a dramatic increase in the number of species and volume of plants of this genus targeted since 2019. Related species within the immediate area have experienced severe declines in population number due to illegal collection. Despite its remote location the single location and small population size makes the species highly susceptible to collection. Grazing by livestock is a potential threat to the small and localised population. There is no decline in habitat quality for this taxon as inferred by changes in vegetation cover determined from changes in Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) between 1984 and 2018 using Landsat data (Venter et al. 2020). While it is not possible to model the response of this taxon to climate change due to its restricted distribution, the average loss to climate change for 15 more widely distributed Conophytum species occurring within the same region is used as an indication of likely impact to this species. Climate models for the likely emission scenarios where emissions stay at present day levels (RCP 2.6) (Hausfather and Peters 2020) 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 72% and 99% by 2080 for Conophytum taxa within the region. However, as this species occupies a very sheltered habitat and possesses certain traits likely to afford resilience to xerophytic conditions it is expected to have a level of resilience to climate change and the expected population loss is reduced by 20% to 52% based on the uncertainty of the response given the expected resilience of this taxon. Species in this genus have limited dispersal ability and migration to suitable habitats elsewhere is regarded as highly unlikely.

The total number of mature individuals present at the only known locality for this species is in the range 250-300 (SANBI site visit, 2021). The number of plants in this general area have been in decline in recent years due to an extended drought and the population may decline in future both due to drought and due to illegal collection for the ornamental succulent trade.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Conophytum danielii PavelkaCR B1ab(v)+2ab(v)2020.1
Conophytum danielii PavelkaVU D1+22017.1
Conophytum jarmilae HaldaData Deficient (Taxonomically Problematic) 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.

Hausfather, Z. and Peters, G.P. 2020. Emissions - the 'business as usual' story is misleading. Nature 577(618-620).

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. 2021. Conophytum danielii Pavelka. 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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