Scientific Name
Aloe linearifolia A.Berger
Higher Classification
Common Names
Inkuphuyana (z)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Near Threatened A2c; B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v)
Assessment Date
L. von Staden & C.R. Scott-Shaw
A range-restricted species (EOO 9700 km²) occurring in the highly transformed grasslands in southern and central KwaZulu-Natal. More than 56% of its habitat has been lost in the last 150 years to crop cultivation (mainly sugarcane) and forestry, but its generation length is relatively short (10 years) and only 15-25% of habitat loss has occurred within the last three generations. This once common species has disappeared from many areas, it is now known from 20-25 locations. Subpopulations continue to decline due to livestock overgrazing and urban expansion.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal
Central and southern KwaZulu-Natal and the Pondoland region of the Eastern Cape.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Grassland, Indian Ocean Coastal Belt, Savanna
High rainfall mistbelt, Ngongoni and coastal grassland, occurs in short grasslands in hilly areas, often in rocky outcrops.
The grassland habitat of A. linearifolia is extensively transformed by commercial forestry plantations, sugarcane and ever increasing coastal and urban expansion. At least 56% of grasslands within the known range of this species has been transformed within the last 150 years (calculated using GIS, using national landcover and vegetation maps). A. linearifolia also appears to be very sensitive to heavy grazing: comparative plot studies in heavily grazed areas adjacent to protected grasslands indicate that this species disappears rapidly from overgrazed areas. As rangelands are generally mapped as 'natural vegetation' the actual extent of habitat loss for this species may far exceed 56% (C.R. Scott-Shaw pers. comm.) So for example are large areas of the Pondoland region in the Eastern Cape mapped as natural but these areas are known to have lost substatial diversity as a result of too frequent burning and overgrazing. This period of transformation is however longer than 3 generations of A. linearifolia, with generation time an estimated 10 years. The establishment of sugarcane and forestry plantations have had a long history in KwaZulu-Natal. Sugar cane was established on the south coast as early as 1860 (Richardson 1982), but most expansion took place between 1950 and 1970, when there was a worldwide increase in sugar demand following World War II (Lewis 1990). Plantations were being established across South Africa as early as 1920 (Burgess and Wingfield 2001). Urban expansion and coastal development on the other hand are mostly responsible for recent and ongoing habitat loss. Overgrazing is also a more recent threat that developed as a result of the combination of human population increase and reduced areas of rangelands being available due to the extensive ongoing transformation of grasslands. Plantations, sugarcane and other cultivation accounts for c 38% of habitat loss, while urbanization and land degradation (taken as an indicator of severe overgrazing) only contributes about 16%. However, considering that the effects of overgrazing in Pondoland is underestimated it may be as high as 20-25%, considering that Pondoland comprizes about 10% of the range of A. linearifolia. In the absence of accurate data on the timing and rate of transformation of the habitat of A. linearifolia it is very difficult to place it in a threatened category under the A criterion, although it very likely qualifies.
Population trend
Distribution: Glen and Hardy (2000) indicates that this species occurs in far northern KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Swaziland. However, all other literature sources - Reynolds 1969, Van Wyk and Smith 1996, Scott-Shaw 1999 and Craib 2005 indicate that A. linearifolia is restricted to central and southern KwaZulu-Natal and the Pondoland region of the Eastern Cape. Rob Scott-Shaw (pers. comm.) reports that A. linearifolia has only been encountered in research plots from the Howick area southwards to Oribi Gorge, Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve and the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve, he has no records of this species from northern KwaZulu-Natal. Mervyn Lotter and John Burrows of the Mpumalanga Plant Specialist Group have also never encountered this species in Mpumalanga (M. Lotter pers. comm.) The records from Mpumalanga and Swaziland, filed under A.linearlifolia in the National Herbarium (PRE) are not recent (Codd, L.E.W. 9525 7-3-1956; Obermeyer, A.A. 208 0-1-1930; Stephen, J.J.F., Van Graan, J.F. and Schwabe, ± 1186 0-10-1972), and are probably misidentifications. The distribution indicated in the majority of sources is used in this assessment. Doesn't occur in heavily utilised grasslands,.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Aloe linearifolia A.BergerNT A2c; B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v)Raimondo et al. (2009)
Aloe linearifolia A.BergerLower Risk - Least Concern Scott-Shaw (1999)
Aloe linearifolia A.BergerNot Threatened Hilton-Taylor (1996)

Burgess, T. and Wingfield, M.J. 2001. Exotic pine forestry in the Southern Hemisphere : a brief history of establishment and quarantine practices : review paper. Southern African Forestry Journal 192:79-84.

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

Glen, H.F. and Hardy, D.S. 2000. Aloaceae (First part): Aloe. In: G. Germishuizen (ed). Flora of Southern Africa 5 Part 1, Fascicle 1:1-159. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

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

Lewis, C.A. 1990. The South African sugar industry. The Geographical Journal 156(1):70-78.

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.

Reynolds, G.W. 1969. The Aloes of South Africa. A.A. Balkema, Cape Town.

Richardson, P. 1982. The Natal sugar industry, 1849-1905: An interpretative essay. Journal of African History 23(4):515-527.

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

Van Wyk, B.-E. and Smith, G. 1996. Guide to the aloes of South Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria.

von Staden, L. & Scott-Shaw, C.R. 2008. Aloe linearifolia A.Berger. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. Accessed on 2019/05/26

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Distribution map

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