Scientific Name
Drimia delagoensis (Baker) Jessop
Higher Classification
Urginea delagoensis Baker, Urginea lydenburgensis R.A.Dyer
National Status
Status and Criteria
Near Threatened B2b(v)
Assessment Date
H. Mtshali, V.L. Williams, D. Raimondo, N.R. Crouch, V.J. Brueton, A.B. Cunningham, C.R. Scott-Shaw, M. Lötter & A.M. Ngwenya
This species is confined to rocky outcrops in the Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces but is quite widespread, with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 57 756 km² and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 120 km². It is estimated to occur in at least 30 subpopulations. The impact of harvesting for traditional medicine is unknown, but it is suspected to be causing a decline in the number of mature individuals. It is therefore listed as Near Threatened, almost meeting criteria B to be listed as Vulnerable.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga
This subtropical lowveld region species occurs in the Mpumalanga and northern KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa and extends into Eswatini and southern Mozambique.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Albany Thicket
Plants grow on rock ledges and shallow pans on rock sheets.
Traditional medicine harvesting of this species' bulbs was a recent threat to the species in 2008. It had only recently become commonly available in the muthi markets. Williams (2003) did not observe the species in the Faraday market in 2001, and a specimen was bought there for the first time in 2004 (V.L. Williams, pers. obs.). V.J. Brueton (as part of her MSc research) noted the species in both the Faraday market in Johannesburg and the Warwick market in Durban (pers. comm., 2008). According to V.J. Brueton, about 5% of Faraday traders sold it in limited quantities, and it was inconsistently available - i.e., you wouldn't see it for months, and then a batch would suddenly become available. So far, about 5% of traders have sold it, but no more than 10 traders were recorded with it in total. It appeared that it became available in the markets only after it had produced leaves (around October/November), thus making it more visible to gatherers. In January 2008, only 3 traders at the Warwick market were observed selling a few bulbs. Furthermore, about 10% of the specimens bought at the market have flowered. It may be slightly sensitive to disturbance and/or flower infrequently. The extent of population fragmentation is unknown. The species could face future threats if it gains popularity for traditional medicine beyond its distribution range and/or if local trade harvesting leads to significant declines in the population.

No quantitative population data are available for this species, but it is known to exist in approximately 20 subpopulations. There are 55 herbaria collections of this species, dating from 1918 to 2019, in addition to 21 recent observation records on iNaturalist. The population trend is unknown, but it is inferred to be declining due to harvesting.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Urginea lydenburgensis R.A.DyerNT B1ab(v)Raimondo et al. (2009)
Drimia delagoensis (Baker) JessopLeast Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)

Crouch, N.R. and Martínez-Azorín, M. 2015. Drimia edwardsii (Asparagaceae, Scilloideae), a new urgineoid species from the Mkhomazi River Valley of eastern South Africa. Phytotaxa 195(2):135-144.

Crouch, N.R., Toit, K., Mulholland, D.A. and Drewes, S.E. 2006. Bufadienolides from bulbs of Urginea lydenburgensis (Hyacinthaceae: Urgineoideae). Phytochemistry 67(19):2140-2145.

Manning, J.C. and Goldblatt, P. 2018. Systematics of Drimia Jacq. (Hyacinthaceae: Urgineoideae) in southern Africa. Strelitzia 40. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to wild flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.

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.

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. 2003. Hawkers of health: an investigation of the Faraday Street traditional medicine market in Johannesburg. Report to Gauteng Directorate for Nature Conservation, DACEL.

Mtshali, H., Williams, V.L., Raimondo, D., Crouch, N.R., Brueton, V.J., Cunningham, A.B., Scott-Shaw, C.R., Lötter, M. & Ngwenya, A.M. 2022. Drimia delagoensis (Baker) Jessop. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/05/20

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Distribution map

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