Scientific Name
Haworthiopsis attenuata (Haw.) G.D.Rowley
Higher Classification
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable A2cd+4cd
Assessment Date
V.L. Williams, P.A. Manyama, N.A. Helme, D.A. Kamundi, A.P. Dold & L. von Staden
A slow growing, long-lived, range-restricted species (EOO 19 322 km²), that has already declined by at least 30% in the past two generations (generation length 50 years) due to unsustainable exploitation for the traditional medicinal and horticultural trade, as well as habitat loss. With these threats anticipated to continue, it is estimated that the population will decline by at least another 20% within the next 10 years.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape
Patensie to the Mbashe River.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Eastern Valley Bushveld, Sundays Valley Thicket, Motherwell Karroid Thicket, Fish Valley Thicket, Doubledrift Karroid Thicket, Buffels Mesic Thicket, Albany Valley Thicket
Karroid scrub, clearings in valley bushveld and steep cliffs.
The main threats to Haworthiopsis attenuata are: medicinal plant harvesting, habitat destruction, and collection of mature individuals from the wild by succulent collectors. Haworthiopsis attenuata is an intelezi plant that is traded heavily - to the extent that it has been reported by traders (in the King Williams' Town market) as becoming increasingly difficult to find (A.P. Dold pers. comm. 2008). Cocks (1996) noted that H. attenuata was an ingredient in almost every prescription she recorded in Xhosa chemists in King William's Town and Peddie. There is no doubt that H. attenuata is a much sought after plant. Dold and Cocks (2002) estimated at least 3400 kg of dry material were sold per year for the six markets in the Eastern Cape survey area, although it is often difficult to distinguish H. attenuata from .Gasteria bicolor in material found in markets (A.P. Dold pers. comm. 2008). The species was noted to be heavily traded and unsustainably harvested at the study sites (Dold and Cocks 2002). In traditional medicine markets outside of the Eastern Cape, Haworthia limifolia is the preferred species, however when it is in short supply it is substituted with other species including H. attenuata (Smith et al 1997, Crouch et al 1999). Around Coega and Redhouse in the Port Elizabeth district, remaining subpopulations are threatened by ongoing habitat loss to urban and industrial expansion. Medicinal harvesting pressure is particularly high around Ndwayana and Peddie, with subpopulations in the Peddie area now completely extirpated. Subpopulations around Addo and Hankey represent unique forms, and easily accessible subpopulations are being cleared for horticultural trade.

It is estimated to have been at least a 30% population reduction in the past 100 years due to collecting and habitat loss. A further 20% reduction is anticipated in the next 10 years due to planned further land clearing for industry and housing, as well as persistent medicinal plant harvesting. The plants are very long lived and their restricted habitat and distribution is further threat to their persistence.

Population trend
This assessment includes Haworthia glabrata, which was long known only in cultivation (Bayer 1982), until it was discovered in the wild in 1991. It was recently included as a variety of H. attenuata (Bayer and Manning 2012), and extends the range of H. attenuata as described by Bayer in Manning and Goldblatt (2012) by about 100 km further east, from the Kei River to the Mbashe River.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Haworthiopsis attenuata (Haw.) G.D.RowleyVU A2cd+4cd2014.1
Haworthia attenuata (Haw.) Haw. var. attenuata EN A4acdRaimondo et al. (2009)
Haworthia glabrata (Salm-Dyck) BakerVU D1+2Raimondo et al. (2009)
Haworthia attenuata (Haw.) Haw. var. radula (Jacq.) M.B.BayerLeast Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)

Bayer, M.B. 1982. The new Haworthia handbook. National Botanical Gardens of South Africa.

Bayer, M.B. 1999. Haworthia Revisited: A revision of the genus. Umdaus Press, Hatfield.

Bayer, M.B. and Manning, J.C. 2012 (Updated online 2013). The Haworthia nomenclator: A list of accepted species with some guidelines for infraspecific names. Haworthia Update 7(4):30-40.

Cocks, M.L. 1996. Towards an understanding of amaYeza yesiXhosa Stores (African Chemists). Unpublished M.A. Thesis, Rhodes University, Grahamstown.

Crouch, N.R., Smith, G.F., Nichols, G., Burden, J.A. and Gillmer, J.M. 1999. A species recovery contribution for Haworthia limifolia var limifolia, the umathithibala of the Zulu. Aloe 36:8-13.

Dold, A.P. and Cocks, M.L. 2002. The trade in medicinal plants in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 98:589-597.

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.

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.

Rowley, G.D. 2013. Generic concepts in the Alooideae. Part 3 - The phylogenetic story. Alsterworthia International Special Issue 10:1-6.

Von Ahlefeldt, D., Crouch, N.R., Nichols, G., Symmonds, R., McKean, S., Sibiya, H. and Cele, M.P. 2003. Medicinal plants traded on South Africa's eastern seabord. Porcupine Press, Durban.

Williams, V.L., Manyama, P.A., Helme, N.A., Kamundi, D.A., Dold, A.P. & von Staden, L. 2014. Haworthiopsis attenuata (Haw.) G.D.Rowley. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2020/08/10

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Distribution map

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