Comments on H. marxii

In An honorary Ariocarpus in Africa – Notes and updated information regarding Haworthia marxii (Alsterworthia Intenational Volume 12, Issue 2) Gerhard Marx and S. D. Gildehuys respond to the inclusion of H. marxii under H. emelyae  by Manning and Bayer in the Rationalized List of Names.

The reason for my dumping H. marxi was purely political as I explained elsewhere. It is just my opinion that there were and are shortcomings in the author’s whole approach to names in Haworthia. So I expected some attempt at vindicating themselves like this. I have no problems with considering H. marxii as a species. I would simply prefer that it remains an element that desperately requires an explanation.

My problem is with statements like this …”Typical H. archeri can be found only … at Viskuil (JDV89/62)”. I described this species and from where it occurs at Ghaapkop and at Baviaans Station just east of there (and Viskuil is just a few miles further east). I later placed it with H. marumiana because of several other oddities widespread and also because of the very wide distribution and variability of H. marumiana. I have since found it also at Lospersberg. Marx has previously been on at me about the relation of H. archeri to H. marumiana. I did not realize that he was unaware of what actually constituted the knowledge of either species.

There is also mention of a collection of PVB1405 as from 20km SE of Rooiberg Pass. This is a bit of a mystery to me as I thought I had noted this collection of PVB from east of the Floriskraal Dam and was for a long time the only possessor of the single plant in cultivation. This collection is cited in my Revision as are the two “archeri” collections noted above. I am sure I noted this collection 40km ESE Laingsburg. It is a mystery because it is north of the Witteberg and Swartberg and is tied in with another population that Bruyns recorded at Baviaanskloof. Every indication is that it is connected to a population of mine at Scholtzkloof, Prince Albert; and so with things that I pondered may be a marumiana connection i.e. ‘var. viridis, or even connected to monticola or more probably, H. vlokii.

Another statement I must make is about the significance of flowering time, as the evidence is that it is not as meaningful as the authors imply. There are hybrids and population evidently arising from hybrids in these interactions – retusa/mirabilis, mutica/mirabilis, floribunda/pygmaea, floribunda/retusa,and herbacea/reticulata. The latter is not across a seasonal flowering difference but the others are.

The large gap between Montagu and Rooinek Pass is reduced somewhat by the old populations of H. mirabilis northeast of Montagu at Dobbelaarskloof and by the new population recorded near the Pienaarskloof Dam. Also relevant is the distribution of H. pumila. So maybe exploration has simply been inadequate. I was and am fully aware of the distance issue.

Regarding flower morphology. Similarities in the flowers of otherwise very different things, is just as significant as differences in the flowers of things that may in fact be very similar. So these small differences should not be punted without far more attention been given to what actually constitutes difference. The few pictures of the flowers that are provided are hopelessly inadequate to base any opinion on. The ultimate issue is that the authors are using idiom, method and logic that have been in service since before Von Poellnitz, Smith, Scott and the rest of us. It has not worked. It is not going to resolve the complications we can find in situations like between say H. mirabilis and H. retusa, or H. arachnoidea and H. mucronata, or H. cooperi and H. cymbiformis, or H. cooperi and H. bolusii var.blackbeardiana. To name some of the more obvious interacting species or elements if we do not know what species are.