Sehlabathebe lily (Aponogeton Ranunculiflorus)

Sehlabathebe lily (Aponogeton Ranunculiflorus)

This unusual species was first described in 1972. It is a small aquatic located first from high altitude rock pools in Sehlabathebe National Park, in what was thought to be only a 3 hectare area. Since then discoveries have been made on the South African side where conditions exactly match the approximate altitude (2600m) and within a 10km radius.


Aponogeton Ranunculiflorus (Apologies for the poor image quality)


Flowering in January, the flowers are borne on long slender strings, they are pure white little cups floating on the surface of water.

Distribution and habitat:

Sehlabathebe rock pool
Photo by: Mark Van Der Wal

In Lesotho it is confined in the sandstone rock pools at an altitude range of 2400 – 3300 Meters above Sea Level. It is easily identified on the surface of the pools. It belongs to group of aquatic plants with special needs for propagation. It requires shallow water in the beginning of season and becomes deeper as the rainy season progresses and becomes shallower again as the dry season approaches.

In nature these kinds of plants grow in tarn that allows for seasonal drying, resulting in the seeds being able to settle at the bottom of pond and germinate when the time / conditions are ideal.

Conservation status:

It is classified as a Critically Endangered plant species by the Southern African Red Data Lists. The Removal of plants and seeds for the National Park is highly prohibited.

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