Tonga Tree Aloe

Scientific Name
Aloidendron tongaense (Van Jaarsv.) Klopper & Gideon.F.Sm.
Higher Classification
Aloe tongaensis Van Jaarsv.
Common Names
Tonga Tree Aloe (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
L. von Staden, G. Nichols & G. Grieve
Aloidendron tongaense has a restricted range in South Africa, with a national extent of occurrence (EOO) of 1068 km². It however has no severe threats, and is therefore not suspected to be in danger of extinction.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
This species occurs in southern Mozambique and north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, from Beira southwards along the coastal plain to St Lucia.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Northern Coastal Forest
It occurs on stabilised dunes in coastal forests.
Most of this species' remaining habitat in South Africa is now protected within the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. Very little remains outside protected areas predominantly due to clearing of forests for subsistence agriculture, fuel and building materials, however, this tree is usually not cut down as it has cultural and practical value to local residents: it is believed to serve as a lightning conductor and protector against evil spirits (G. Nichols pers. comm. 2013). Dune systems of the Maputaland area are also targeted for mining, and habitat loss to mining is a potential threat. Expanding rural settlements in southern Mozambique is likely to be causing ongoing destruction of coastal forests in the northern part of this species' range, however in Mozambique it is also protected within the Maputo Elephant Reserve. According to Van Wyk and Smith (2014) this species is not threatened.

This species is quite common in the dry sand forests around Lake Sibaya and the northern end of Lake St Lucia (G. Nichols pers. comm. 2013). Even outside protected areas, it is not suspected to be declining.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Aloidendron tongaense (Van Jaarsv.) Klopper & Gideon.F.Sm.Least Concern 2014.1
Aloidendron tongaense (Van Jaarsv.) Klopper & Gideon.F.Sm.Least Concern 2014.1

Burrows, J.E., Burrows, S.M., Lötter, M.C. and Schmidt, E. 2018. Trees and shrubs Mozambique. Publishing Print Matters, Cape Town.

Grace, O.M., Klopper, R.R., Figueiredo, E. and Smith, G.F. 2011. The Aloe names book. Strelitzia 28. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Grace, O.M., Klopper, R.R., Smith, G.F., Crouch, N.R., Figueiredo, E., Rønsted, N. and Van Wyk, A.E. 2013. A revised generic classification for Aloe (Xanthorrhoeaceae subfam. Asphodeloideae). Phytotaxa 76(1):7-14.

Van Jaarsveld, E.J. 2010. Aloe tongaensis, a new species from Tongaland, KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), and a new sectional arrangement of the tree aloes. Aloe 47(3):64-71.

Van Wyk, B.-E. and Smith, G.F. 2014. Guide to the Aloes of South Africa. (Third ed.). Briza Publications, Pretoria.

von Staden, L., Nichols, G. & Grieve, G. 2019. Aloidendron tongaense (Van Jaarsv.) Klopper & Gideon.F.Sm. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2024/02/25

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Distribution map

© G. Grieve

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