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Marasmodes trifida

Scientific Name
Marasmodes trifida S.Ortiz
Higher Classification
National Status
Status and Criteria
Critically Endangered C2a(i); D
Assessment Date
R. Koopman, I. Ebrahim, A.R. Magee & L. von Staden
Two extremely small subpopulations are known to remain, one consisting of three mature individuals, and the largest with about 20-30 mature individuals. Thirty years of monitoring has recorded ongoing population decline due to ongoing habitat degradation and competition from alien invasive plants. This species is in extreme danger of extinction, and conservation interventions are urgently needed to aid population recovery.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
Atlantis to Kalbaskraal.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Swartland Silcrete Renosterveld, Atlantis Sand Fynbos, Swartland Shale Renosterveld
Brackish clay flats, overlaid with sand.
This species' habitat has been extensively transformed for crop cultivation and most of the remaining areas are degraded and densely infested with alien invasive plants. Quarrying, urban and agricultural expansion are causing ongoing habitat loss. Inappropriate management of small fragments, particularly fire management, is leading to ongoing degradation. The largest subpopulation has declined due to spreading alien invasive plants. The only surviving individuals occur in the road verge, which is frequently cleared of larger shrubs, and in a firebreak along a fence line. There is however concern that too frequent mowing of the road verge may cause further damage to the remaining plants, which have declined rapidly over the past 30 years.

Marasmodes trifida is known from three small remaining subpopulations within an extremely small area. The largest remaining subpopulation occurs at Kalbaskraal, where it has been monitored since the 1980s, when it was reported to be locally common. Ongoing degradation of this site has led to population decline, and in 2009 fewer than 110 plants remained, mostly within the road verge. Recent surveys found only about 20-30 plants (I. Ebrahim pers. comm. 2016). Two other small subpopulations have recently been recorded in severely degraded Atlantis Sand Fynbos. Three plants have been found growing on the edge of a clay quarry surrounded by dense alien invasive wattle infestations in 2010 (R. Koopman pers. comm.). In 2011, a single plant was found at a commercial chicken farm. At the time of discovery, the plant had already been sprayed with herbicides intended for clearing alien invasive plants, and later died. A portion of the property was set aside for conservation, and M. trifida plants are being grown ex situ with the intention of reintroducing the species at the site (J. van der Merwe, pers. comm. 2016).

Population trend
Koopman, R., Ebrahim, I., Magee, A.R. & von Staden, L. 2012. Marasmodes trifida S.Ortiz. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. Accessed on 2020/04/06

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Distribution map

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