Scientific Name
Euphorbia flanaganii N.E.Br.
Higher Classification
Euphorbia discreta N.E.Br., Euphorbia ernestii N.E.Br., Euphorbia franksiae N.E.Br., Euphorbia gatbergensis N.E.Br., Euphorbia passa N.E.Br., Euphorbia procumbens of other authors, in sense of N.E.Br. 1925, not of Mill. (misapplied name), Euphorbia woodii N.E.Br.
Common Names
Inhlehle (z), Isihlehle (z), Vingerpol (a)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Vulnerable A2cd+4cd
Assessment Date
V.L. Williams, R.H. Archer, J.E. Victor, N.R. Crouch, A.B. Cunningham, C.R. Scott-Shaw, M. Lötter, A.M. Ngwenya & A.P. Dold
There has been a minimum of 40% reduction of the population due to habitat loss and medicinal plant harvesting in the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast region over the past 100 years (generation length 40 years). An additional 10-15% decline is expected in the next 20 years due to the N2 road construction through the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape, which will cause additional habitat loss and allow access for medicinal plant harvesters. This species therefore qualifies for listing as Vulnerable under criterion A.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal
This species occurs in the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape province. Its distribution in the Eastern Cape ranges from southwest of Pondoland to Mazeppa Bay, East London and Bathurst.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Bhisho Thornveld, Bedford Dry Grassland, Transkei Coastal Belt, Pondoland-Ugu Sandstone Coastal Sourveld, KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Belt Grassland, Hamburg Dune Thicket, Kasouga Dune Thicket
It grows in coastal grasslands and low dune bush, mainly on sandstones, 40-800 m.
The whole plant is used for traditional medicine and is regularly sold in markets in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Cunningham (1988) described the species as 'rare and vulnerable' - i.e. a species with a relatively small population size that is vulnerable to over-exploitation if exploitation for medicinal purposes increases. It has been seen in the Queenstown and Umtata markets, but not Grahamstown (A.P. Dold, pers. comm., 2008). This species has been seen in the Johannesburg markets as well (V.L. Williams, pers. obs.). A regenerative characteristic acting in its favour following harvesting, is that the cone-shaped rootstock will resprout. It is also well adapted to survive fire and grazing. Within KwaZulu-Natal this species' coastal habitat has been severely impacted by development. Land transformations to sugar cane monocultures and housing projects are the main culprits (De Lange et al. 1998). Road construction has further threatened the species and also made sites that were previously inaccessible to harvesters accessible. The N2 highway extension will likely threaten subpopulations in the former Transkei/Eastern Cape due to increased accessibility to sites and further land transformation. Land transformation and habitat destruction is expected to continue, especially since the species occupies a very narrow and restricted habitat that is continually being degraded and transformed. There is some pressure from succulent collectors removing plants from the field, but the western horticultural market is believed to be annually saturated by as few as 20 specimens (De Lange et al. 1998).

A subpopulation with lots of individuals was reported to occur at Msikaba (C.R. Scott-Shaw, pers. comm., 2008), and there is believed to be plenty of it in parts of the southern Transkei near the coast (A.P. Dold, pers. comm., 2008). A few subpopulations remain on the southern KwaZulu-Natal coast, and closer to Durban it is now locally extinct (D. Styles pers. obs.). In the Margate-Ramsgate area, there are two locations. At one, there was only one plant, but this site was destroyed by development, at the other there were only three plants, and there were signs that plants had been removed. Around Port Edward and Munster there are two large populations on the beach, each with 200-300 plants. There may be more subpopulations further south in the Pondoland region (apparently it is quite common around Mkambati). At Mkambati Nature Reserve, a patch of 20-50 individual plants were counted (C.R. Scott-Shaw, pers. comm., 2008). Plants are also known to occur between the Qora River Mouth, Mazeppa Bay area, and Nqabara River Mouth (A.P. Dold, pers. comm., 2008). The plant is fairly common wherever rocks appear on hilltops overlooking the sea. It is used medicinally, but no wholesale harvesting has been observed in this area (A.P. Dold, pers. comm., 2008). The fleshy crown is eaten by goats, but the damage doesn't kill the plant.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Euphorbia flanaganii N.E.Br.VU A2cd+4cd2014.1
Euphorbia flanaganii N.E.Br.Least Concern 2013.1
Euphorbia flanaganii N.E.Br.Least Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)
Euphorbia woodii N.E.Br.EN A4cdRaimondo et al. (2009)
Euphorbia gatbergensis N.E.Br.Least Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)
Euphorbia ernestii N.E.Br.Least Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)
Euphorbia woodii N.E.Br.VU Scott-Shaw (1999)
Euphorbia woodii N.E.Br.Rare Hilton-Taylor (1996)

Bredenkamp, C.L. 2019. A flora of the Eastern Cape Province. Strelitzia 41. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Bruyns, P.V. 2012. Nomenclature and typification of southern African species of Euphorbia. Bothalia 42(2):217-245.

Cunningham, A.B. 1988. An investigation of the herbal medicine trade in Natal/KwaZulu. Investigational Report No. 29. Institute of Natural Resources, Pietermaritzburg.

De Lange, A.M., Crouch, N.R., Prentice, C.A., Swartz, P. and Hawker, L.C. 1998. Propagation and cultivation of the rare succulent, Euphorbia woodii N.E.Br., a Zulu medicinal plant from the eastern seabord of South Africa. Aloe 35(3&4):98-101.

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.

Scott-Shaw, C.R. 1999. Rare and threatened plants of KwaZulu-Natal and neighbouring regions. KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service, Pietermaritzburg.

Williams, V.L., Archer, R.H., Victor, J.E., Crouch, N.R., Cunningham, A.B., Scott-Shaw, C.R., Lötter, M., Ngwenya, A.M. & Dold, A.P. 2022. Euphorbia flanaganii N.E.Br. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version . Accessed on 2024/04/15

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Distribution map

© H. Mtshali

© H. Mtshali

© G. Nichols

© D. Styles

© D. Styles

© D. Styles

© D. Styles

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