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Pleiospilos simulans

Taxonomy
Scientific Name
Pleiospilos simulans (Marloth) N.E.Br.
Higher Classification
Dicotyledons
Family
AIZOACEAE
Synonyms
Mesembryanthemum simulans Marloth
National Status
Status and Criteria
Critically Endangered D
Assessment Date
2016/11/09
Assessor(s)
L. von Staden
Justification
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.
Distribution
Endemism
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape
Range
Graaff-Reinet to Willowmore.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Terrestrial
Major habitats
Eastern Lower Karoo, Southern Karoo Riviere
Description
Gravelly flats.
Threats
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).
Population

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
Unknown
Citation
von Staden, L. 2016. Pleiospilos simulans (Marloth) N.E.Br. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. Accessed on 2019/12/06

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