Scientific Name
Aloe bowiea Schult. & J.H.Schult.
Higher Classification
Bowiea africana Haw., Chamaealoe africana (Haw.) A.Berger
National Status
Status and Criteria
Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)
Assessment Date
L. von Staden, V. Zikishe & L. Strydom
Aloe bowiea has a restricted range (EOO 23-548 km², AOO 20-24 km²) and remains at four to five locations after extensive habitat loss and degradation between Uitenhage and Coega Kop. It continues to decline due to ongoing habitat loss and degradation across its range.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape
Uitenhage to Coega, and also near Kirkwood.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Motherwell Karroid Thicket, Sundays Valley Thicket, Baviaans Valley Thicket
Subtropical transition thicket, in rocky soils on level to southwest-facing slopes.
The largest subpopulation of Aloe bowiea has been significantly reduced as a result of urban expansion and industrial development around Uitenhage, Despatch and Coega (Smith and Van Wyk 1990). Recent (2003-2018) field observations by volunteers of the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) Programme indicate that two of the three remaining subpopulations occur on severely degraded land on the outskirts of urban areas where it is subjected to overgrazing, illegal dumping, and illegal succulent collecting. Almost all the plants occurring at Coega Kop has been lost to quarrying since 1983. Current threats to an isolated subpopulation near Kirkwood is not known. In the 1980s the property was owned by a conservation-minded farmer (Smith and Van Wyk 1990), but there is no recent information on this subpopulation.

Aloe bowiea is known from a very restricted area. Historically, more than 90% of the population occurred between Uitenhage and Coega Kop, with only one other small subpopulation known from near Kirkwood. The Uitenhage-Coega subpopulation has been fragmented by habitat loss to urban expansion, and it is now locally extinct around Despatch. Currently, 190-2550 plants occur in an area to the east of Motherwell township, an area earmarked for development as part of the Coega Industrial Development Zone. In 2018, another large subpopulation of 721-1610 individuals was rediscovered at a historical location near Uitenhage, where the species was previously thought to be extinct (Smith and Van Wyk 1990). A third subpopulation consisting of "a few hundred individuals" (Smith and Van Wyk 1990) was last recorded in the 1980s, and the current status of this subpopulation is not known. Aloe bowiea lost about 3% of its habitat between 1990 and 2014 (calculated using GIS, based on comparative land cover datasets), mainly as a result of the expansion of the Motherwell township. However the impact of overgrazing and collecting on the population cannot be quantified at present, and requires ongoing monitoring of existing subpopulations. About 140 plants were lost to succulent collecting between 1983 and 1988 (Smith and Van Wyk 1990), but recently (2018), more than 1000 plants were recorded in roughly the same area. About 250 plants were lost to quarrying at Coega Kop between 1983 and 1993, but Aloe bowiea was recorded as still present at Coega Kop in 2006, although the number of plants was not reported. It is possible that both remaining subpopulations between Uitenhage and Coega Kop could be lost to habitat loss and degradation in the next 10-15 years, resulting in more than 80% population reduction within three generations, but recent population trends recorded through field monitoring and habitat loss do not support such a projection.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Aloe bowiea Schult. & J.H.Schult.CR A4acd; B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)Raimondo et al. (2009)
Aloe bowiea Schult. & J.H.Schult.CR A1aceB1B2abcdeVictor (2002)
Aloe bowiea Schult. & J.H.Schult.Endangered Hilton-Taylor (1996)

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.

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

Smith, G.F. 1989. The destruction of the natural habitat of Aloe bowiea (Asphodelaceae: Alooideae). Excelsa 14:117-124.

Smith, G.F. 1991. Additional notes on the taxonomic status and habitat of Aloe bowiea (Asphodelaceae: Alooideae). Aloe 28:9-17.

Smith, G.F. and van Wyk, A.E. 1989. Biographical notes on James Bowie and the discovery of Aloe bowiea Schult. et J.H. Schult. (Alooideae: Asphodelaceae). Taxon 38(4):557-568.

Smith, G.F. and van Wyk, A.E. 1990. Notes on the distribution and habitat of Aloe bowiea (Liliaceae/Asphodelaceae: Alooideae), an endangered and little known species from the eastern Cape. Bothalia 20(1):123-125.

Smith, G.F. and Van Wyk, A.E. 1993. Notes on the pollen morphology and taxonomy of Aloe bowiea (Asphodelaceae: Alooideae). Madoqua 18:93-99.

Smith, G.F., Glen, H.F., Van Wyk, A.E. and Condy, G. 1994. Aloe bowiea. Flowering Plants of Africa 53:80-84.

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. 2003. Guide to aloes of South Africa. (2nd 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.

von Staden, L., Zikishe, V. & Strydom, L. 2019. Aloe bowiea Schult. & J.H.Schult. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2020/07/10

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Distribution map

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