Conophytum klinghardtense subsp. klinghardtense

Assessor: Sarah Schumann

Sensitive in 2010
This species is threatened by widespread, unregulated, unsustainable exploitation of wild populations. The localities of remaining populations need to be protected to avoid any further exploitation, which is likely to drive it to extinction.
Exploitation extent
Significant - wild individuals of the species are known to be exploited, collected, traded or utilized in a targeted manner, and utilisation is widespread, affects the majority of wild populations and/or is causing rapid decline of the wild population.
Justification and references

According to the IUCN Red List Assessment, this subspecies is Endangered as it is not currently threatened by illegal collection but it is likely that it will become a target in coming years as the majority of other species in the genus have been increasingly targeted and threatened with illegal collection since 2019 (Young 2022). As of 2019, this genus has become popular in trade and there is a high demand from international horticultural markets for wild collected plants as indicated by media, police reports and several online marketplace, e-commerce, and auction sites (Young et al 2015; Friedman 2021; Tshuma 2021; Trenchard 2021; Hyman 2020; Young 2020). Rare Conophytum species remain potentially threatened by collecting (Young et al 2015). Plants of this genus were among those targeted and confiscated during recent criminal prosecutions of illegal plant collecting (Majikela 2020; Myburgh 2021) (Confiscation Lists (2019-2021) provided by Cape Nature, SANBI Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden, SANBI Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, SANParks Sendelingsdrift Botanic Garden and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment). This suggests that this genus is being targeted and that this subspecies may be threatened.

Friedman, B. 2021. 24 May 2021. South Africa targeted for rare plant poaching placing biodiversity at risk. Cape Talk. Available at:

Hyman, A. 2020. 1 February 2020. Koreans fined R5m as poachers target SA's succulent treasure chest. Times Live. Available at:

Majikela, M. 2020. 31 January 2020. Hefty sentencing for possession of Conophytum plants. Media Statement. South African Police Service Office of the Provincial Commissioner Western Cape. Available at:

Myburgh, A. 2021. 20 January 2021. Man behind bars for possession of endangered plants (Conophytum). Media Statement South African Police Service, Office of the Provincial Commissioner North West. Available at:

Trenchard, T. 2021. 31 July 2021. In South Africa, Poachers Now Traffic in Tiny Succulent Plants. The New York Times. Available at:

Tshuma, N. 2021. 20 May 2021. Collectors drive a spike in theft of indigenous plants in the Western Cape. IOL. Available at:

Young, A.J. 2020. Conophytum armianum S.A.Hammer. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. 

Young, A.J., Raimondo, D. & Hammer, S.A. 2015. Conophytum hermarium (S.A.Hammer) S.A.Hammer. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1.

Young, A. 2022. (assessment in prep 2022) Conophytum hermarium. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 

Population vulnerability
Population is not vulnerable: size is > 2500 mature individuals, AND the number of known subpopulations is > 5 AND range > 100km2
Justification and references

This taxon has an extent of occurrence of 117 km² with a population size thought to consist of more than 25 000 individuals (Young 2022).

Young, A. 2022. (assessment in prep 2022) conophytum klinghardtense subsp. klinghardtense. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 

Targeted demographics
Mature (breeding) individuals are killed, significantly weakened or are permanently removed from the wild, OR immature individuals are targeted and this significantly impacts mature (breeding) individuals.
Regeneration potential
This species has a slow population growth rate, or the growth rate varies depending on habitat, and there is a poor chance the wild populations will recover from exploitation OR a collector might feasibly harvest the entire extant population removing the chance of subsequent recruitment.
Justification and references

High levels of endemism and a restricted range makes this species vulnerable to population loss (Hammer 2002; Young & Desmet 2016; Young & Rodgerson 2016). Regeneration potential for the vast majority of the Conophytum genus is very poor as recruitment is low and dependent on successive, appropriate weather conditions. Seeds are not known to disperse. Regeneration will take decades. (Young, personal communication 2021, 5 October)

Hammer, S. 2002. Dumpling and his wife: New view of the genus Conophytum. EAE Creative Colour, Norwich.

Young, A.J. and Desmet, P.G., 2016. The distribution of the dwarf succulent genus Conophytum NE Br.(Aizoaceae) in southern Africa. Bothalia-African Biodiversity & Conservation46(1), pp.1-13.

Young, A.J. and Rodgerson, C., 2016. The dwarf succulent genus Conophytum NE Br.: distribution, habitat and conservation. Aloe52(2).