Red Bush Lily

Scientific Name
Clivia miniata (Lindl.) Regel var. miniata
Higher Classification
Imantophyllum miniatum Hook.
Common Names
Benediction Lily (e), Boslelie (a), Bush Lily (e), Clivia (e), Fire Lily (e), Flame Lily (e), Red Bush Lily (e), September Lily (e), St John's Lily (e), Ubuhlungu-bemamba (z), Ubuhlungu-beyimba (z), Umayime (z)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable A2abcd
Assessment Date
V.L. Williams, D. Raimondo, N.R. Crouch, A.B. Cunningham, C.R. Scott-Shaw, M. Lötter & A.M. Ngwenya
The population has declined at least 40% in the last 90 years (generation length 30 years) due to harvesting for the medicinal plant and horticultural trades as well as some habitat loss to commercial forest plantations, crop cultivation and urban development.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga
Barberton to Kei mouth, also in Swaziland.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Scarp Forest, Northern Mistbelt Forest, Southern Mistbelt Forest, Barberton Montane Grassland, KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Belt Grassland
Scarp, mistbelt and coastal riverine forests, in loose rocky habitats in light or partial shade, 100-1400 m.
Threatened by harvesting for the traditional medicine trade. Traders do not distinguish between Clivia species and all species are therefore at risk of over-exploitation. The primary factor determining which species is sold on a particular day in the market relates to where a harvester has managed to find subpopulations to exploit. Five Clivia species found in South Africa are harvested for traditional medicine and have been recorded in all the major medicinal plant markets in South Africa. Clivia miniata and C. nobilis were the most frequently referenced species in the literature, but C. miniata, C. caulescens and C. gardenii are the most prevalent in the markets. The whole plant (except for the flowers) is used and the tops of the leaves are typically cut off, thereby making it difficult to distinguish between the species. Cunningham (1988) estimated that 397 bags (50kg-size) were sold annually by 54 traders, which probably represented a quarter of the total quantity sold in the region at the time. In 2001, 26% of the Faraday Market traders in Johannesburg sold Clivia spp. (ranked thirteenth in order of prevalence), and the volume present in the market at the time of the two week survey was equivalent to 11 bags (50 kg-size) (Williams 2003). The volume purchased annually by traders in Faraday was conservatively estimated to be more than 200 bags. However, inconsistent availability of the species has been noted by the traders. One quarter of the Faraday traders selling clivias also noted that it was scarce and increasingly difficult to obtain. The prevalence and popularity of the genus in other markets is reportedly high. Assessments for Mpumalanga (Mander 1997) and KwaZulu-Natal (Mander 1998) ranked Clivia spp. as being in the top 10 of the most frequently demanded plants. On the Witwatersrand in 1994, the genus was sold by 66% of the muthi shops and was also ranked thirteenth out of more than 450 species in terms of its occurrence in the shops (Williams et al. 2000, Williams 2007). There seems to be a preference by traders for younger and smaller individuals. Older and larger plants were perceived as having more water in them and were thus 'weaker' because of the diluted power - however, most traders will buy whatever they can get due to its popularity (V.L. Williams, pers. obs.). The whole plant of Clivia miniata is dug up, hence harvesting is very destructive. In addition, the species is very popular with specialist horticultural collectors, and extraction continues to occur (N.R. Crouch, pers. comm., 2008). The 1950s and 1960s saw heavy declines attributed to horticultural collections (N.R. Crouch, pers. comm., 2008). One of the first records of Clivia miniata's popularity comes from a note written on the herbarium sheet lodged at the KwaZulu-Natal Botanical Garden (no. 13054). J.M. Wood pressed the specimen in June 1911 and wrote " a garden, Durban. Plants purchased from a Native". Another report on the Nxamalala Forest near Pietermaritzburg recorded how Clivia miniata was being "plucked extensively for sale when it flowers during the summer" (Taylor 1963). The Fernkloof Reserve used to be densely populated with C. miniata, but that is nearly all gone (N.R. Crouch, pers. comm., 2008). While the species is vulnerable to removal by muthi harvesters and Clivia collectors and face a reasonable chance of becoming Extinct in the Wild, the impact is reduced because it also occurs in very inaccessible areas such as on cliff ledges and rock faces. Hence, a certain percentage of the population is protected by inaccessible areas of its habitat (N.R. Crouch, pers. comm., 2008) (but the same cannot be said for C. gardenii). There are also enough plants in horticulture to prevent the species from becoming Extinct. In summary, the bulk harvesting of clivias for the medicinal plant trade is a nationally acknowledged threat to the genus. Clivias (especially C. miniata and more recently C. caulescens) are traded extensively and over-harvesting is a threat to the persistence of populations in the wild. Furthermore, high volumes in trade, plant scarcities and shortages have been reported by traders in several regional medicinal plant markets. The population has declined at least 40% in the last 90 years due to persistent and consistent harvesting pressures from the medicinal plant trade, horticultural acquisitions and some land transformation, hence it qualifies as Vulnerable under A2d.
Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Clivia miniata (Lindl.) Regel var. miniata VU A2abcdRaimondo et al. (2009)
Clivia miniata (Lindl.) RegelLower Risk - Least Concern Victor (2002)
Clivia miniata (Lindl.) RegelLower Risk - Near Threatened Scott-Shaw (1999)
Clivia miniata (Lindl.) Regel var. miniata Not Threatened Hilton-Taylor (1996)
Clivia miniata (Lindl.) RegelIndeterminate Hall et al. (1980)

Dyer, R.A. 1943. Clivia caulescens. Flowering Plants of Africa 23:t. 891.

Golding, J.S. 2002. Southern African plant red data lists. No. 14. SABONET, Pretoria.

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.

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

Phillips, E.P. 1921. Clivia miniata. Flowering Plants of Africa 1:t. 13.

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.

Scott-Shaw, C.R. 1999. Rare and threatened plants of KwaZulu-Natal and neighbouring regions. KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service, Pietermaritzburg.

Victor, J.E. 2002. South Africa. In: J.S. Golding (ed), Southern African plant Red Data Lists. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report 14 (pp. 93-120), SABONET, Pretoria.

Vorster, P.J. 1994. Clivia nobilis. Flowering Plants of Africa 53:70-74.

Williams, V.L., Raimondo, D., Crouch, N.R., Cunningham, A.B., Scott-Shaw, C.R., Lötter, M. & Ngwenya, A.M. 2008. Clivia miniata (Lindl.) Regel var. miniata. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. Accessed on 2019/06/16

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Distribution map

© C. Paterson-Jones

© C. Paterson-Jones

© J.E. Burrows

© G. Nichols

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