Encephalartos laevifolius 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Cycadopsida Cycadales Zamiaceae

Scientific Name: Encephalartos laevifolius Stapf & Burtt Davy
Common Name(s):
English Kaapsehoop Cycad

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A2acde+4acde ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-31
Assessor(s): Donaldson, J.S.
Reviewer(s): Agenbag, L. & Bösenberg, J.D.
E. laevifolius has declined across its range. Spectacular declines have been recorded for subpopulations in Kaapsehoop and Mariepskop, due to poaching, and subpopulations in Swaziland have also declined. All subpopulations appear to be affected by a fungal infection of the female cones, which destroys all the seeds. Overall the species population is thought to have declined by more than 80% of the last three generations and these declines are continuing at a similar rate.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The main subpopulations of E. laevifolius are found within the catchment of the Crocodile River, near the Kaapsehoop Range west of Nelspruit. Isolated groups are present on the Amajuba high points above Sudwala Caves. About 130 km further to the north, the Mariepskop mountains host a disjunct subpopulation of about four groups of the same species. Isolated smaller colonies are found to the west of this locality in the Trichardtsdal area. It is also present near Pigg's Peak in Swaziland. Further to the south it occurs/used to occur east of Helpmekaar and on the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape border in the Umtamvuna river valley. Recorded to occur from 950 up to 1,800 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga); Swaziland
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:300
Number of Locations:6
Lower elevation limit (metres):950
Upper elevation limit (metres):1800
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The population has undergone significant declines, and despite its wide range is thought to only number between 700 and 820 mature individuals.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:700-820
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species occurs in grassland or low shrubs on steep rocky slopes. Most localities are high altitude sites (1,300 to 1,500 m), with frequent mists. Like many other Encephalartos species, E. laevifolius appears to be adapted to a three to five year burning cycle. Plants grow in full sunlight in grassland or scrub.
Generation Length (years):70

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is used in traditional medicine.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Signs of stem harvesting for traditional medicine have been observed. Some evidence of plant pathogens have been reported. In addition, E. laevifolius is threatened due to habitat loss caused by alien invasive plants and timber plantations. This species has also been drastically affected by over-collecting for ornamental purposes.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix I of the CITES Appendices. Populations occur in the Lekgalameetse Nature Reserve, the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, the Starvation Creek Nature Reserve in South Africa and in Malolotja Nature Reserve in Swaziland.

Classifications [top]

3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.2. Wood & pulp plantations -> 2.2.2. Agro-industry plantations
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.2. Gathering terrestrial plants -> 5.2.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.2. Problematic native species/diseases -> 8.2.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Emery, A.J., Lötter, M. and Williamson, S.D. 2002. Determining the conservation value of land in Mpumalanga. Available at:

Grobbelaar, N. 2002. CYCADS - with special reference to the southern African species. Privately published by Nat Grobbelaar, Pretoria, South Africa.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.3). Available at: (Accessed: 2 September 2010).

Osborne, R. 1989. Focus on Encephalartos laevifolius. Encephalartos 19: 2-8.

Scott-Shaw, C.R. 1999. Rare and Threatened Plants of KwaZulu-Natal and Neighbouring Regions. KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Services, Pietermaritzburg.

Citation: Donaldson, J.S. 2010. Encephalartos laevifolius. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T41891A10571116. . Downloaded on 19 August 2018.
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