Umabelejongosi Ompofu

Scientific Name
Eulophia speciosa (R.Br. ex Lindl.) Bolus
Higher Classification
Eulophia austrooccidentalis Sölch, Eulophia leucantha (Kraenzl.) Sölch, Eulophia speciosa (R.Br. ex Lindl.) Bolus var. culveri Schltr., Eulophia wakefieldii (Rchb.f. & S.Moore) Summerh., Lissochilus hereroensis Kraenzl., Lissochilus leucanthus Kraenzl., Lissochilus speciosus R.Br. ex Lindl., Lissochilus wakefieldii Rchb.f. & S.Moore
Common Names
Large Yellow Eulophia (e), Umabelejongosi Ompofu (z), Umlunge Omhlophe (z)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
V.L. Williams, D. Raimondo, N.R. Crouch, A.B. Cunningham, C.R. Scott-Shaw, M. Lötter & A.M. Ngwenya
Declines in wild subpopulations have been observed as a result of harvesting for the medicinal trade. It common in muthi markets and we suspected an overall, continuing decline. It is still too common to list as NT.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Western Cape
Western Cape to tropical East Africa and Sudan.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Albany Thicket, Fynbos, Indian Ocean Coastal Belt, Savanna
Occupies various habitats including sand dunes, bushveld, thornveld and montane grasslands.
Believed to be widely threatened by harvesting for the medicinal plant trade and habitat loss. Traditional medicine: Rhizomes sold in noticeable quantities in the Faraday traditional medicine market in Gauteng. Hundreds of individual plants seen in the markets at any one time. (V.L. Williams, pers. comm., 2008). Sold by 22% of the muthi shops in 1994 and the Faraday traders in 2001 (Williams 2007). Called 'iphamba', the species is also sold in the KwaZulu-Natal muthi markets (McDonald & Duckworth 1995; von Ahleveldt et al. 2003). The species is deciduous and, hence, the trade tends to be seasonal (N.R. Crouch, pers. comm., 2008). Habitat: various people have noted that it has lost a lot of coastal habitat (N.R. Crouch, R. Scott-Shaw and M. Ngwenya, pers. comm., 2008).
Population trend
Generation time and recruitment: the generation length is difficult to assess because the species is persistent like Gunnera perpensa. The species is not found in mass clumps and is spread out and is probably constantly recruiting (N.R. Crouch, pers. comm., 2008) In the Cape region, E. speciosa is seldom found more than several kilometres inland of the coast. Plants usually grow in recent or stabilized sand dunes vegetated by fynbos shrubs or grasses. In other parts of southern Africa, E. speciosa has a wide ecological amplitude and has been recorded from thornveld, valley bushveld and mountain grassland vegetation, on a variety of substrates including, sandy, lateritic and black clay soils. According to Stewart and Hennesy (1981), a dry period when water is withheld, is essential for the successful cultivation of this orchid. Flowers pollinated by large carpenter bees (ref.: Wild Orchids of the Cape Floral Kingdom - WR Liltved & SD Johnson).
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Eulophia speciosa (R.Br. ex Lindl.) BolusDeclining Raimondo et al. (2009)
Eulophia speciosa (R.Br. ex Lindl.) BolusLower Risk - Least Concern Victor (2002)
Eulophia speciosa (R.Br. ex Lindl.) BolusNot Threatened Hilton-Taylor (1996)
Eulophia austrooccidentalis SölchIndeterminate Hall et al. (1980)
Eulophia leucantha (Kraenzl.) SölchIndeterminate Hall et al. (1980)

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.

Hall, A.V. 1965. Studies in the South African species of Eulophia. Journal of South African Botany Supplement 5:1-248.

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.

Liltved, W.R. and Johnson, S.D. Unpublished. The Cape Orchids - Wild orchids of the Cape Floral Kingdom.

Linder, H.P. and Kurzweil, H. 1999. Orchids of southern Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam.

McDonald, G. and Duckworth, A. 1995. The uses of orchids in traditional medicine. South African Orchid Journal 25(3):75-79.

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.

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 Ahlefeldt, D., Crouch, N.R., Nichols, G., Symmonds, R., McKean, S., Sibiya, H. and Cele, M.P. 2003. Medicinal plants traded on South Africa's eastern seabord. Porcupine Press, Durban.

Williams, V.L. 2007. The design of a risk assessment model to determine the impact of the herbal medicine trade on the Witwatersrand on resources of indigenous plant species. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Williams, V.L., Raimondo, D., Crouch, N.R., Cunningham, A.B., Scott-Shaw, C.R., Lötter, M. & Ngwenya, A.M. 2016. Eulophia speciosa (R.Br. ex Lindl.) Bolus. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/07/17

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Distribution map

© A. Grobler

© D. Turner

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