Red Poker Grass Aloe

Scientific Name
Aloe kniphofioides Baker
Higher Classification
Aloe marshalli J.M.Wood & M.S.Evans
Common Names
Grasaalwyn (a), Grass Aloe (e), Red Poker Grass Aloe (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable A2c
Assessment Date
M. Lötter, J.E. Burrows, C. Craib, L. von Staden & D. Raimondo
A population reduction of at least 30% is estimated based on 42% loss of habitat as a result of afforestation, inappropriate fire management, loss of pollinators, mining and alien plant invasion over the past 50-80 years. It is a long-lived, slow growing resprouter and the habitat loss has taken place over one to two generations.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga
High altitude grasslands of Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and north-eastern Eastern Cape.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
KaNgwane Montane Grassland, Paulpietersburg Moist Grassland, Wakkerstroom Montane Grassland, Northern Escarpment Quartzite Sourveld, Barberton Montane Grassland, Eastern Highveld Grassland, Northern KwaZulu-Natal Moist Grassland
Montane grassland.
Grassland habitat in Mpumalanga and Northern KwaZulu-Natal is 37% transformed, while grassland habitat in the Eastern Cape is 55% transformed - total transformation: 42% (calculated using GIS). This species is severely threatened as a result of habitat transformation and degradation. The montane grassland habitat of this species is ideally suited for forestry, and across most of the range of this species this has had a severe impact on populations. Remaining small sub-populations are undergoing ongoing decline due to poor recruitment. Poor recruitment is the result of the loss of pollinators from habitat fragments, as well as the fact that this species is dependent on fires for flowering. Amidst forestry plantations, grasslands are either not burnt at all, or burnt too frequently in fire break zones, which prevents young seedlings from becoming established. In many areas where no recruitment is taking place, only very old mature individuals can be found, which are thought to be survivors of the habitat destruction, and which indicates that this is a slow growing, long-lived species and that the declines in populations have happened in between one and two generations. In some areas, the habitat is also being destroyed by open cast coal mining, especially around southern Mpumalanga. In many areas, alien invasive species are taking over open grasslands, further reducing the suitable habitat of this species. For in-depth details of specific threats to specific areas of the range of this species, see Craib (2005). This publication does not elaborate on the situation in the Eastern Cape, but through personal communications with Charles Craib it was established that the fate of this species in the Eastern Cape is no better than in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, and transformation scores indicate that the habitat is even more transformed than elsewhere.
Population trend
This species is an extremely slow-growing, long-lived resprouter. Old individuals in small grassland fragments surrounded by plantations are thought to be individuals still surviving prior to the planting of the trees (more than 50 years ago), as no recruitment is taking place in these fragments. Mature plants have also been observed in flower in an area recently felled and burnt again after many years, which must have been there since the original planting, as this species only flowers (and recruits) after fires. Unfortunately the site was replanted again soon after (Craib 2005).
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Aloe kniphofioides BakerVU A2cRaimondo et al. (2009)
Aloe kniphofioides BakerLower Risk - Least Concern Scott-Shaw (1999)

Craib, C. 2005. Grass Aloes in the South African Veld. Umdaus Press, Hatfield.

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.

Lötter, M., Burrows, J.E., Craib, C., von Staden, L. & Raimondo, D. 2006. Aloe kniphofioides Baker. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. Accessed on 2019/05/26

Comment on this assessment Comment on this assessment
Distribution map

© S.P. Bester

© G.W. Reynolds

© M. Lötter

© J.E. Burrows

© D.R. McKenzie

Search for images of Aloe kniphofioides on iSpot