Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Little is known about the reproductive biology of the bastard quiver tree (6), but the species' flowers appear in early summer (around October) (2), and their structure suggests that they may be pollinated by sunbirds (6). If this is the case, then the bastard quiver tree is one of very few species in the area that is bird-pollinated and therefore plays a key role within the ecosystem (6). These trees are a keystone species of this region; many animals rely on their existence for a variety of different reasons (6). It is one of very few high points in this desolate vegetation that can act as a vantage point for birds of prey and as nesting sites for other birds. The succulent nature of the leaves and flowers is also an important source of moisture for a range of different animals (6). Due to the absence of growth rings in this monocot species, it is very difficult to tell how long trees live. It is suspected, however, that they grow very slowly and live between 250 and 350 years (7).
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Description

The bastard quiver tree casts a dramatic shape on the desolate skyline of the Succulent Karoo in southern Africa. This succulent tree can be up to ten metres tall; there are only a few branches high up on the trunk and reaching skywards, whilst the leaves tend to droop down (2). The bark is pale and smooth, often flaking off in large sections (2). The bright yellow flowers are produced on branched inflorescences that are located below the leaf rosettes (2).
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Distribution

Range Description

Largely restricted to an area in the Richtersveld in the Cape Province. There are records suggesting the species extends as far north as Brandberg in Namibia, but these need confirmation.
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Range

Found mainly in the Richtersveld region of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, reaching north into southern Namibia (1).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Growing up to 10 m, this aloe is largely confined to an intensely hot and arid area. It has been suggested that this species, along with A. dichotoma and Pachypodium namaquanum, represents a keystone in the ecosystem, being one of the few perennial plants able to tolerate the conditions. It is an important source of shelter, nectar, food and moisture, especially to the avifauna.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The bastard quiver tree is mainly confined to intensely hot and arid areas of the Succulent Karoo biome which receive winter rainfall which may be supplemented with fog precipitation (2) (4). It grows on rocky, gravel slopes of mountain summits and occasionally on sandy plains (4).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Aloe pillansii

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Barcode data: Aloe dichotoma subsp. pillansii

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Aloe dichotoma subsp. pillansii

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Aloe pillansii

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
CR
Critically Endangered

Red List Criteria
A2b, B1+2e

Version
2.3

Year Assessed
1998
  • Needs updating

Assessor/s
Hilton-Taylor, C.

Reviewer/s

Contributor/s

History
  • 1997
    Endangered
    (Walter and Gillett 1998)
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Status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the latest Red List of South African Plants (3), as well as on the Red List of Namibian Plants (4) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (5).
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Population

Population
A serious decline in the population has reduced the numbers to less than 200 individuals. There is no recruitment and the older plants are dying.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
There is evidence of baboons and porcupines gnawing the stems in up to a third of the population. The impact of goats, donkeys and plant collectors may also be detrimental.
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Recent surveys of the bastard quiver tree in the Richtersveld region of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, as well as in Namibia, suggest that there has been very little successful reproduction in the last 100 years. In addition, many of the older trees are dying, indicating that the population does not appear to be naturally regenerating (6) (8). The rarity of the bastard quiver tree may be partly attributed to their habitat; in harsh environments the problems of survival are amplified (6). Similar declines in population regeneration in sister species Aloe dichotoma, (the quiver tree), have been attributed to climate change (9) and it is very likely that the bastard quiver tree is being affected similarly. These effects are worsened by the removal of plants by horticultural collectors, as well as through herbivory by baboon, porcupines, rock rabbits and livestock, which also trample young plants (3) (4) (6) (8). Populations may also be affected by damage caused by leaf scale insects, and by base metal mining in Namibia (10).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species is listed in CITES Appendix I.
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Conservation

Bastard quiver trees are protected in South Africa and Namibia (11), and are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), effectively banning international trade in wild plants of this species (1). Further research into this important species is vitally needed, together with the careful monitoring of existing populations (6). Bastard quiver trees are a vital component of the Succulent Karoo ecosystem and an important tourist draw to the region, thus making conservation efforts imperative for the area.
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Wikipedia

Aloe pillansii

Aloe pillansii (also called Giant Quiver Tree or Bastard Quiver Tree) is a critically endangered species of tree in the Aloaceae family.

This aloe grows up to 15 meters in height. Slightly similar to Aloe dichotoma - to which it is closely related - it can nonetheless easily be distinguished by the way that its inflorescences hang from below the lowest leaves, rather than growing erect. It also has fewer and more erect branches than its relative. Aloe pillansii, Aloe dichotoma and Aloe ramosissima are usually grouped together as the "Draco-aloe" subsection of the Aloe genus.
Like its two close relatives, Aloe pillansii is found around the border between Namibia and South Africa, where its natural habitat is dry subtropical or tropical shrubland. It is severely threatened by habitat loss.

See also

Sources


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