Gladiolus aureus Baker

Scientific Name
Gladiolus aureus Baker
Higher Classification
Homoglossum aureum (Baker) Oberm.
National Status
Status and Criteria
Critically Endangered A2ace; B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v); C2a(i,ii); D
Assessment Date
J.E. Victor & G.D. Duncan
First collected near Kommetjie in 1894, known from a small area on the mountain slopes above the village (EOO <10 km²). Recorded as having been locally common before 1980. Monitoring between 1980 and 2005 recorded an 85% decline in the population due to quarrying, groundwater extraction, alien plant invasion, flower-picking and seed harvesting. Fewer than 10 plants remain at one location, which is close to a low income housing settlement. Decline due to alien plant invasion, human trampling and pollution is ongoing. Generation length suspected to be seven to 10 years.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
Cape Peninsula.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Sandstone, in peaty sand in seeps that remain wet well into the spring.
The site where this species grows is severely degraded, polluted with litter (Duncan 2002) and infested with dense stands of alien acacias, which have caused the loss of more than 80% of the population since the 1980s. These Acacias were cleared around 2003, but they are already reseeding from seed banks and reinvading the site (Helme pers. obs.2005). It is also thought that overcollecting in the past by flower sellers and seed collection for cultivation in the 1980s has weakened the regeneration abilities of the already declining population. Groundwater extraction and gravel quarrying nearby is also thought to have degraded the habitat by altering its water dynamics (species prefers seasonally moist areas). A nearby informal settlement has caused the loss of part of the population in the past, and is spreading ever closer to the last remaining plants.

This spectacular golden-flowered species was known since its discovery from only a small area on the lower mountain slopes of Kommetjie on the Cape Peninsula. Up until the 1940s it was described as locally common. However, the population declined from about 60 to only 22 plants when monitored by conservationists as part of CapeNature's ISEP project in the 1980s-1990s. Most recent data from 2005 indicate that there are less than 10 plans remaining.

Population trend
This species' habitat is not protected. Attempts have been made to introduce cultivated individuals into the nearby Cape Point Nature Reserve, but this has been unsuccessful (Duncan 2002).
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Gladiolus aureus BakerCR A2ace; B1ab(i,ii,iii,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,v); C2a(i,ii); DRaimondo et al. (2009)
Gladiolus aureus BakerEndangered Hilton-Taylor (1996)
Gladiolus aureus BakerEndangered Hall et al. (1980)

Barnard, T.T. 1974. Vanishing bulbs of the veld: 3. Gladiolus aureus Baker. IBSA Bulletin 24(4-5):4-5.

Delpierre, G.R. and Du Plessis, N.M. 1974. Winter-growing Gladioli of South Africa: a pictorial record with descriptions. Tafelberg Uitgewers, Cape Town.

Duncan, G. 1981. Gladiolus aureus Bak.: it's present position. Veld & Flora 67:17-18.

Duncan, G. 2002. Just holding on: spectacular geophytes in peril. Veld & Flora 88(4):142-147.

Duncan, G.D. 2005. Gladiolus aureus. Flowering Plants of Africa 49:t.1948.

Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J.C. 1998. Gladiolus in southern Africa. Fernwood Press, Vlaeberg.

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.

Hall, A.V., De Winter, M., De Winter, B. and Van Oosterhout, S.A.M. 1980. Threatened plants of southern Africa. South African National Scienctific Programmes Report 45. CSIR, Pretoria.

Helme, N.A. and Trinder-Smith, T.H. 2006. The endemic flora of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. South African Journal of Botany 72(2):205-210.

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

Victor, J.E. & Duncan, G.D. 2010. Gladiolus aureus Baker. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. Accessed on 2017/01/20

Comment on this assessment Comment on this assessment
Distribution map

© C. Paterson-Jones

Search for images of Gladiolus aureus on iSpot