Scientific Name
Aloe saundersiae (Reynolds) Reynolds
Higher Classification
Aloe minima J.M.Wood, Leptaloe saundersiae Reynolds
National Status
Status and Criteria
Endangered B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(ii,iii,iv,v)
Assessment Date
H. Mtshali, C.R. Scott-Shaw, B. Church, D. Raimondo & L. von Staden
Aloe saundersiae has a restricted distribution, with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 2170 km², and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 36 km². The population is small and severely fragmented, and continues to decline due to ongoing habitat loss and degradation.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
This species has a limited distribution in central KwaZulu-Natal, where it occurs from Melmoth to Greytown and Wartburg.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
KwaZulu-Natal Sandstone Sourveld, Midlands Mistbelt Grassland, Moist Coast Hinterland Grassland
It occurs in crevices and small pockets on cool, semi-shaded rocky slopes in mistbelt and moist grassland.
Nkandla Mountain is surrounded by rural settlements and the grasslands on the mountaintop are used as communal rangelands where large herds of goats and cattle are causing severe overgrazing and trampling (C.R. Scott-Shaw pers. comm.). As a result of too-frequent burning, heavy grazing pressures and soil erosion, the plants have declined sharply in numbers over the last 20 years. The optimum habitat, consisting of steep, grassy banks below cliffs has now largely been degraded and taken over by weeds and other pioneering vegetation. The species is now confined to the least suitable habitat and may disappear from much of this too, particularly under conditions of global warming (Craib 2005).

The population of Aloe saundersiae consists of only a few, scattered subpopulations. The largest subpopulation at Nkandla has 500-1000 mature individuals (B. Church pers. comm.). Recent surveys of four other subpopulations indicate that they are all small, mostly consisting of fewer than 10 mature individuals, and one with 150-200 individuals. The size of a sixth subpopulation is not known. Subpopulations at two other localities, known through historical records, still needs to be surveyed. Based on the average size of surveyed subpopulations, it is estimated that the population consists of between 1000 and 2000 mature individuals. As most individuals are in small and isolated subpopulations, the population is considered severely fragmented. A continuing decline is inferred from ongoing habitat loss and degradation.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Aloe saundersiae (Reynolds) ReynoldsCR B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(ii,iii,iv,v)Raimondo et al. (2009)
Aloe saundersiae (Reynolds) ReynoldsEN B1B2bcdVictor (2002)
Aloe saundersiae (Reynolds) ReynoldsEN B1B2bcd,D1Scott-Shaw (1999)
Aloe saundersiae (Reynolds) ReynoldsVulnerable Hilton-Taylor (1996)

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

Germishuizen, G., Meyer, N.L., Steenkamp, Y. and Keith, M. (eds). 2006. A checklist of South African plants. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report 41 SABONET, Pretoria.

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.

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. 1947. Genus Leptaloe Stapf. Restoration to Aloe Linn. Journal of South African Botany 13:101-103.

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

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

Smith, G.F., Steyn, E.M.A., Victor, J.E., Crouch, N.R., Golding, J.S. and Hilton-Taylor, C. 2000. Aloaceae: The conservation status of Aloe in South Africa: an updated synopsis. Bothalia 30(2):206-211.

Van Wyk, B.-E. and Smith, G.F. 2014. Guide to the Aloes of South Africa. (Third ed.). Briza Publications, Pretoria.

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.

Mtshali, H., Scott-Shaw, C.R., Church, B., Raimondo, D. & von Staden, L. 2018. Aloe saundersiae (Reynolds) Reynolds. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2023/12/04

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Distribution map

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