Home Tourism Cultural Resources Nature Reserves Biodiversity Programmes Legislation Search

Expand all ~ Collapse all

Mlawula Nature Reserve - Flora

The flora of Mlawula is notable for its great richness and diversity, more especially in the deep rocky ravines of the Lubombo mountains; here, almost pure stands of the unique Lubombo Ironwood may be found, and in their shade grows a cycad found nowhere else in the world, as well as many uncommon succulents and climbers.

The Mbuluzi river valley provides a floral link with the Mozambican coastal flats, and several species of plant more typical of that area grow here. The higher ravines and south-facing valleys tend to support a wetter type of forest or thicket, and are well worth a visit. The dryer Siphiso valley is characterised by knobthorn savanna, with bushwillow species on the rocky ridges. (See Vegetation Types, Vegetation Map)

The flora of the reserve comprises about 1035 plant species including 55 alien species.

Priority Species

(Information extracted from Southern African Plant Red Data Lists, Ed. Janice Golding, Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 14, 2002.)

(Note: the links for each species will take you to the relevant page of the Swaziland Flora Database.)

Critically Endangered

Encephalartos striatus
Status: CR A1acdA2cB1B2abcde Threats: Collection Distribution: Umbeluzi Gorge of Mlawula Occurs in the shade of Androstachys johnsonii forest. This species used to be extremely common, but this has changed. The species has suffered massive decline in the last 10 years, estimated at more than 80%. It is found in an extremely accessible area. Threatened by illegal collectors.

Euphorbia keithii
Status: CR B1B2ceC2a Endemism: Near endemic Threats: Agriculture, urban expansion, habitat degradation, forestry exploitation, harvesting, alien plant infestation Distribution: Stegi, Usuthu Gorge (?), Sitsatsaweni (northeast of Siteki), Oribi Ranch, Mlawula Species protected under CITES. Habitat specific, habitat decline. Species prefers hot, dry, exposed areas. Restricted to the Lebombo Mountains.


Aloe dewetii
Status: EN A1acd Threats: Collection Distribution: Hlatikulu (Grand Valley) Listed by WCMC’s RDL as Vulnerable for Swaziland and previously Rare. Previously found in the Hlatikulu (1970s), but could not be found there recently. Is a spotted leaf aloe eaten by people. Threatened by a high population density.

Encephalartos aplanatus
Status: EN A1acdB2abcde Distribution: Mlawula, Goba road just north of Siteki, South of Siteki toward the farm Muti Muti, previously on Muti Muti This species is also known from Mozambique. This species was described from a subpopulation of about six individuals near the Swaziland South Africa border. Subsequently, several subpopulations have been discovered. Threatened by illegal collectors.

Encephalartos lebomboensis
Status: EN A1acdeA2deB1B2abcde Threats: Harvesting, collection Distribution: Mangana, Mbuzini, Malto Alto, Lebombo, Stataweni, Mangana All the localities mentioned are primarily relicts. Subpopulations suffered a measurable decline. In 1981, the subpopulation was observed to be abundant. Almost 20 years later, there has been a 25% decline. Threatened by illegal collectors.

Lannea antiscorbutica
Status: EN DB1B2aC2b Endemism: Near endemic Distribution: Umbeluzi Gorge (Mlawula) Previously only known from a single locality in South Africa near the Swaziland Mozambique border.

Vitellariopsis dispar
Status: EN B1B2cD Endemism: Near endemic Distribution: Mlawula, Siteki Restricted. Only one locality outside Swaziland. Moist forest.


Ficus polita subsp. polita
Status: VU D2 Distribution: Mlawula (Umbeluzi Gorge, Mahlabashane), Jilobi

Gladiolus brachyphyllus
Status: VU A2c Threats: Urban expansion Distribution: Umbeluzi and Umlola Reserves, Mlawula Several subpopulations found in the Kruger National Park (South Africa); recorded from Limpopo Province and Mpumalanga (South Africa). Only single plants have been found in Swaziland. Very seldomly seen.

Lower Risk

Acrotome thorncroftii
Status: LR lc Distribution: Mlawula, Lomahasha, Tulwana, Blue Jay Ranch Previously listed as Rare. Known from about five herbarium collections in Swaziland.

Aloe rupestris
Status: LR lc Distribution: Umbeluzi Gorge, Mnyame, Libertas, Lebombo Was listed previously as Rare for Swaziland.

Aloe vanbalenii
Status: LR lc Distribution: Mlawula, lower East side of Umbeluzi river, Lebombo In river valleys. Uncommon. Was listed as Rare for Swaziland in previous RDLs. Only in the northern Lebombo Mountains.

Aneilema dregeanum
Status: LR lc Distribution: Ingwavuma Poort, Mtindekwa, Mlawula Three localities identifed in Swaziland from collections by Compton and Braun. Also known from South Africa, and reported also to occur in Zimbabwe.

Chionanthus foveolatus subsp. foveolatus
Status: LR lc Distribution: Mlawula, Jilobi, Umbeluzi Gorge Known from only a single protected locality in Swaziland.

Cleome macrophylla var. macrophylla
Status: LR lc Distribution: Mlawula (Lebombo), Mbeluzi Gorge

Cordyla africana
Status: LR lc Very rare and marginal in Swaziland, often occurring as single plants. It is a widespread tropical plant. Wild Mango.

Crassula acinaciformis
Status: LR lc Distribution: Ukuthula, Hlatikhulu, Komati Bridge, Mlawula, Maguga, Siteki, Umbeluzi Gorge One protected locality.

Crassula orbicularis
Status: LR lc Only one record for Swaziland by Kemp.

Crinum graminicola
Status: LR lc Threats: Agriculture Distribution: Mlawula, Hlane (Simunye) One subpopulation known. Only in South Africa, according to PRECIS. Sugar cultivation is a threat.

Croton madandensis
Status: LR lc Distribution: Mlawula, Lebombo Mountains Shrub or tree.

Cussonia nicholsonii
Status: LR lc Distribution: Mlawula (S), Siteki Two records, one in a protected area. Known collections in Swaziland by Culverwell and Kemp.

Dietes flavida
Status: LR lc Distribution: Malolotja and Mlawula Reserves, Lebombo Has a disjunct distribution and scarce everywhere.

Drimiopsis maculata
Status: LR lc Distribution: Mlawula, Red Tiger Ranch

Ficus bubu
Status: LR lc Distribution: Mlawula, Manzinyama, Umbeluzi Poort, Siteki, Sihaya In Androstachys forests in Mlawula.

Gasteria batesiana var. batesiana
Status: LR nt Threats: Collection Distribution: Umbeluzi Gorge, Mnyami On cliffs. Four small disjunct subpopulations in Swaziland. Collected for medicinal and horticultural purposes.

Haworthia limifolia var. ubomboensis
Status: LR nt Endemism: Near endemic Threats: Collection Distribution: Siteki, Umbeluzi Gorge, Mnyame In forests. Limited in distribution. Not uncommon. Known from two subpopulations in Swaziland, but restricted to the Lebombo. Known only from Ironwood forests. Collected for medicinal and horticultural purposes. Also reported from the Lebombo in South Africa and Mozambique.

Lobelia corniculata
Status: LR lc Distribution: Lebombo, Siteki, Mlawula Was listed as Indeterminate/Uncertain in previous RDLs. Known from very few herbarium collections.

Manilkara concolor
Status: LR lc Distribution: Bulunga Poort, Mlawula, Siteki, Umbeluzi, Timbutini, Manzini Recorded in Swaziland by Compton, Culverwell and Kemp.

Nesaea alata
Status: LR lc Distribution: Mlawula In or near shallow pans. Only recorded twice, once from Kruger National Park (South Africa) and once in the Lebombo Mountains.

Newtonia hildebrandtii var. hildebrandtii
Status: LR lc Distribution: Mlawula, Manzimnyama (Nyame), Umbeluzi Gorge, Black Mbeluzi River Recorded in Swaziland by Culverwell.

Orbea ubomboensis
Status: LR lc Endemism: Endemic? Distribution: Lebombo Was listed previously as Rare for Swaziland. Is common in the Lebombo Mountains.

Pavetta barbertonensis
Status: LR lc Distribution: Siteki, Kings Forest, Lebombo Mnts., Palata, Mlawula Was on the previous Swaziland RDL as Rare.

Psilotum nudum
Status: LR lc Distribution: Umbeluzi Gorge, Malolotja, Mlawula A cosmopolitan species, but seldom common anywhere. Widespread in Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius, Australia, Polynesia, Spain, the Americas and so forth.

Streptocarpus confusus subsp. lebomboensis
Status: LR lc Endemism: Near endemic Distribution: Mlawula, Mnyame, Jilobi Scattered in moist forest of the Lebombo.

Tephrosia gobensis
Status: LR lc Endemism: Endemic ? Distribution: Mlawula, Siteki

Tephrosia grandiflora
Status: LR lc Distribution: Blue Jay Ranch (Mlawula), Mananga Mount, Siteki Recorded in Swaziland by Compton.

Tephrosia kraussiana
Status: LR lc Distribution: Mlawula Known from collections in Swaziland by Culverwell.

Thunbergia pondoensis
Status: LR lc Distribution: Mlawula, Komati Bridge

Tinnea galpinii
Status: LR lc Distribution: Hlatikhulu, Mlawula, Siteki, Cecil Marks Pass Recorded in Swaziland by Compton and Culverwell.

Uvaria lucida subsp. virens
Status: LR lc Distribution: Lebombo, Mlawula

Xylopia odoratissima
Status: LR lc Distribution: Umbelzi Gorge, Mhlumeni Border

Data Deficient

Aloe cooperi subsp. cooperi
Status: DD Distribution: Malolotja Valley, Ezulwini, Stegi, 20 km North of Piggs Peak Found in Malalotja Valley in the mid veld. Taxonomic problem makes this species difficult to assess. Very common and widespread in South Africa.

Aneilema schlechteri
Status: DD Endemism: Near endemic Distribution: Malinda, Grand Valley Known from collections in Swaziland by Codd, from two localities.

Ceropegia carnosa
Status: DD Distribution: Mlawula, Maguga, Gollel, Komati Pass One site protected, whereas the other is inundated. It is known from several collections such as those of Culverwell, Germishuizen, Dlamini and Hilliard. Status: DD Distribution: Komati Pass, Bunya Known from collections in Swaziland by Kemp.

Ceropegia crassifolia var. crassifolia
Status: DD Distribution: Dinedor Known from collections in Swaziland by Culverwell and Wallis.

Croton steenkampianus
Status: DD Distribution: Blue Jay Ranch (Mlawula) One record in a protected area by Lycette. Known to be extremely common outside Swaziland.

Euclea undulata
Status: DD Distribution: Simunye, Sicusha, Golela Only one record for Swaziland by Rodin.

Eulophia speciosa
Status: DD Distribution: Mlawula, Umbeluzi Gorge Northwards into Tropical Africa. Also reported from the Cape area (South Africa). Both synonyms were classified as threatened in previous RDLs.

Gladiolus hollandii
Status: DD Previously listed as Rare for South Africa’s former Transvaal and Swaziland. It is reported to be common in hills above Barberton in South Africa, as it is a highveld species. Common in South Africa.

Helichrysum athrixiifolium
Status: DD Distribution: Malkerns, Mlawula, Hlatikulu, Hlane Game Reserve, Malandzela, possibly Maguga

Hypoxis hemerocallidea
Status: DD Very widely used. Still very widespread and abundant in the wild.

Lannea schweinfurthii var. stuhlmannii
Status: DD Likely to be extinct in Swaziland.

Nesaea zambatidis
Status: DD Distribution: Mlawula Known from collections in Swaziland by Culverwell.

Plectranthus rubropunctatus
Status: DD Distribution: Mdzimba, Forbes Reef, Ermelo Rd., Piggs Peak, Mbabane

Plectranthus zuluensis
Status: DD Endemism: Near endemic Distribution: Mdzimba, Umbeluzi Recorded in Swaziland by Culverwell.

Senecio medley-woodii
Status: DD Distribution: Lebombo Mountains (Jozini) to Umtamvuna River, Mlawula Has succulent stems. Good horticultural potential. Reported to be fairly uncommon in South Africa. No information available for Swaziland.

Stachys natalensis var. natalensis
Status: DD Distribution: Malolotja, Havelock mine, Nduma, Ngwenya Mountain.

Turraea floribunda
Status: DD Distribution: Lebombo Mountains, Mhlophe, Siteki Recorded in Swaziland by Compton.

Vitex rehmannii
Status: DD Distribution: Siteki Known from collections in Swaziland by Miller.

Xylopia parviflora
Status: DD Threats: Collection Collected for medicinal properties.

Site Map
Reference Material

Mlawula Vegetation
Mlawula Flora Checklist
Swaziland's Flora Database
SNTC Headquarters: Parliament Road. P O Box 100, Lobamba, Swaziland. Tel: (+268) 2416 1516, 2416 1489, 2416 1179. Fax: (+268) 2416 1875, 2416 1480. Email: info@sntc.org.sz
National Museum:
Tel: (+268) 2416 1179, 2416 1875
Fax: 2416 1875
Email: curator@sntc.org.sz
King Sobhuza II Memorial Park:
Tel: (+268) 2416 1179, 2416 1489
Fax: 2416 1875
Email: ksmp@sntc.org.sz
Malolotja Nature Reserve:
Tel/Fax: (+268) 2444 3241
Cell: 7660 6755
Email: culturalvillage@sntc.org.sz
Mantenga Nature Reserve:
Tel: (+268) 2416 1151
2416 1178, Fax: 2416 1480
Email: culturalvillage@sntc.org.sz
Magadzavane Lodge
Mlawula Nature Reserve:
Tel: (+268) 2343 5108/9
Fax: 2343 5111
Email: magadzavane@sntc.org.sz