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Skiatophytum flaccidifolium

Scientific Name
Skiatophytum flaccidifolium Klak
Higher Classification
Saphesia flaccida of other authors, not of (Jacq.) N.E.Br. (misapplied name)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Critically Endangered B2ab(ii,iii,iv,v)
Assessment Date
C. Klak, D. Raimondo & L. von Staden
Two small, severely fragmented subpopulations remain on isolated habitat remnants (AOO <10 km²) after >50% of known subpopulations were lost to alien plant invasion, crop cultivation and urban development. It continues to decline due to ongoing habitat loss to rooibos tea cultivation and alien plant invasion.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Western Cape
Graafwater to Malmesbury.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Atlantis Sand Fynbos, Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, Leipoldtville Sand Fynbos
Lowland sand fynbos, in seasonally wet depressions.
This species has declined due to extensive habitat loss to crop cultivation, and habitat loss continues in the sandveld. One remaining subpopulation near Darling is threatened by competition from alien invasive plants. Efforts to clear alien plants have been made, but after a recent fire, there has been extensive regeneration of invasive species from soil-stored seed banks, and more follow-up clearing is required to prevent reinvasion.

This species is extremely rare, and is known historically from only a few collections from the area between Darling and Philadelphia. One subpopulation is known to remain in a small nature reserve, and recently a few more plants were found on a private property adjacent to the nature reserve. This subpopulation consists of less than 100 mature individuals. A second subpopulation of less than 50 mature individuals is known from the base of Paardeberg about 23 km to the south-east. Both subpopulations are small, occur on isolated remnants and the population is therefore considered to be severely fragmented. It was also recorded once from deep sandy soils near Redelinghuys, about 120 km further north. Most of the sand fynbos on this farm has been ploughed for rooibos tea and potato cultivation, and it is not certain whether the subpopulation survives. It was last recorded in 1984. This species may occur in similar, deep sandy soils in intervening areas, but very little sand fynbos remains intact due to rapid recent expansion of crop cultivation in the sandveld. The area is also botanically fairly well explored, and it is therefore unlikely that many other unrecorded subpopulations exist.

Population trend
Recent taxonomic study (Klak et al. 2015) revealed that collections of this species were previously erroneously referred to as Saphesia flaccida (Jacq.) N.E.Br., and that it is in fact an unnamed species. True Saphesia flaccida (Jacq.) N.E.Br. is very poorly known. No known wild populations can be confidently matched to the original illustration of this species, and it is considered insufficiently known (Klak et al. 2015).
Klak, C., Raimondo, D. & von Staden, L. 2016. Skiatophytum flaccidifolium Klak. 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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