Scientific Name
Portulacaria afra Jacq.
Higher Classification
Claytonia portulacaria (L.) L., Crassula arborea L., Crassula portulacaria L., Portulaca fruticosa Thunb. (later homonym), not of L. (1759)
Common Names
Elephant Food (e), Elephant's Food (e), Igqwanitsha (x), Igwanishe (x), Indibili (z), Intelezi (z), Isambilane (z), Isicococo (z), Isidondwane (z), Olifantskos (a), Porkbush (e), Soetspekboom (a), Soet-spekboom (a), Spekboom (e), Spekboom (a), Suurspekboom (a), Suur-spekboom (a), Umfayisele (x), Wehlathi (x)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
L. von Staden
Widespread, common and not in danger of extinction.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Western Cape
Little Karoo eastwards through the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal, and northwards along the Lebombo Mountains to the Mpumalanga Lowveld, Sekhukhuneland and Venda. It is occasionally cultivated in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, its native occurrence in these areas cannot be verified (Wild 1961).
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Albany Thicket, Nama Karoo, Savanna, Succulent Karoo
Dry rocky slopes in succulent scrub, bushveld and thicket.
Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Portulacaria afra Jacq.Least Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)

Boon, R. 2010. Pooley's Trees of eastern South Africa. Flora and Fauna Publications Trust, Durban.

Bruyns, P.V., Oliveira-Neto, M., Melo-de-Pinna, G.F. and Klak, C. 2014. Phylogenetic relationships in the Didiereaceae with special reference to subfamily Portulacarioideae. Taxon 63(5):1053-1064.

Coates Palgrave, M. 2002. Keith Coates Palgrave Trees of southern Africa. 3rd Edition. Struik, Cape Town.

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.

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.

Schmidt, E., Lotter, M. and McCleland, W. 2002. Trees and shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park. Jacana, Johannesburg.

Vlok, J. and Schutte-Vlok, A.L. 2010. Plants of the Klein Karoo. Umdaus Press, Hatfield.

Wild, H. 1961. Portulacaceae. In: A.W. Exell and H. Wild (eds). Flora Zambesiaca 1 (Part 2):362-372. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London.

von Staden, L. 2015. Portulacaria afra Jacq. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/06/14

Comment on this assessment Comment on this assessment
Distribution map

© J.H. Vlok/A.L. Schutte-Vlok

© J.H. Vlok/A.L. Schutte-Vlok

© L. von Staden

© L. von Staden

Search for images of Portulacaria afra on iNaturalist