Scientific Name
Pleiospilos simulans (Marloth) N.E.Br.
Higher Classification
Mesembryanthemum simulans Marloth
National Status
Status and Criteria
Critically Endangered D
Assessment Date
L. von Staden
A species that was previously thought to be extinct in the wild, but recently rediscovered. One small subpopulation of fewer than 50 plants is potentially threatened by illegal succulent collecting.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape
Graaff-Reinet to Willowmore.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Eastern Lower Karoo, Sundays Arid Thicket
Gravelly flats.
This species is popular in cultivation (Martin 1989), but most of the material in horticultural collections are hybrids (Hammer and Liede 1986). There were three known subpopulations in the wild, but these were all cleared out by succulent collectors by the early 2000s (J.H. Vlok pers. comm. 2007). A recently rediscovered wild population is threatened by collection (it is close to a road).

Pleiospilos simulans is a rare, range-restricted species (historical EOO is 1888 km²), and it is known from only a few collections. There were three known subpopulations in the wild, but these were all locally extinct by the early 2000s. The plant was not recorded in the wild for more than 20 years, and was thought to be extinct in the wild. However, recently, a small subpopulation of about five plants was discovered on a farm near Klipplaat (D. Schnabel pers. comm. 2015). The species is small and cryptic, particularly when not in flower, and well camouflaged in its stony habitat. It is therefore easily overlooked, and the recent discovery brings hope that other, small subpopulations may persist in the wild. A more thorough survey of this species' habitat is needed to determine the size and extent of the population.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Pleiospilos simulans (Marloth) N.E.Br.CR D2017.1
Pleiospilos simulans (Marloth) N.E.Br.Extinct in the Wild Raimondo et al. (2009)
Pleiospilos simulans (Marloth) N.E.Br.Endangered Hilton-Taylor (1996)

Hammer, S. and Liede, S. 1991. Hybridisation in the Mesembs. Veld & Flora 77(1):14-15.

Hartmann, H. and Liede, S. 1986. Die Gattung Pleiospilos s. lat. (Mesembryanthemaceae). Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik 106(4):433-485.

Hilton-Taylor, C. 1996. Red data list of southern African plants. Strelitzia 4. South African National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

Martin, M. 1989. Pleiospilos simulans. British Cactus & Succulent Journal 7(3):80-80.

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 Staden, L. 2016. Pleiospilos simulans (Marloth) N.E.Br. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2020/07/03

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Distribution map

© E.J. van Jaarsveld

© E.J. van Jaarsveld

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