Haworthia Revisited – 7. Haworthia chloracantha

7. Haworthia chloracantha Haw., Revis. :57(1821).  Bayer :106(1976).  Bayer :32(1982).  Scott :52(1985).  Aloe chlorocantha Roem. et Schultes, Syst.Veg. 7:641(1929).  Salm-Dyck, Monogr. 13:f1(1836).  Type: Not preserved.  Neotype: icon, 13:f1 Salm-Dyck, Monogr.  Epitype (ex B&M, designated here): N. of Herbertsdale, Bayer in KG411/75 (NBG).

chloracantha: green-thorned.

Rosette from 25-40mm φ, proliferous.  Leaves: erect spreading, firm to slightly scabrid, triangular in cross-section, spines on margins and keel.  Inflorescence simple raceme, lax.  Flowers small.

1982 – H. chloracantha is a fairly localised species occurring in the Herbertsdale, Mossel Bay and Great Brak area.  It occurs as three main varieties.  Firstly the variety chloracantha from north and west of Herbertsdale which is a relatively robust light green form.  The var. denticulifera is a smaller, usually purplish-green form found in and around Mossel Bay, while var. subglauca is a more robust waxygreen form from the granitic soils at Great Brak.  Von Poellnitz, particularly, confused this species with H. angustifolia but it is slightly more scabrid and the marginal teeth are larger and wider apart.  Although more robust, the var. subglauca may reach up to 60-70 mm tall with leaves up to 10 mm broad at their widest.  The var. denticulifera may be as small as 30 mm tall with leaves less than 3 mm broad at their widest.  The relationship between H. chloracantha and H. floribunda to the west is obscure.  The Gouritz River valley effectively divides the two species but there are dubious populations north and south-east of Albertina which may suggest a relationship between these two species (see H. floribunda).  However, it is unlikely that either H. floribunda, H. divergens or H. variegata will be confused with H. chloracantha.

1999 – This species was related to H. angustifolia even prior to the recognition of H. monticola ( H. divergens Bayer, 1982).  H. chloracantha is more probably more directly related to H. floribunda and H. variegata, but it is also possible that the relationship of the varieties given here is incorrect and that the typical variety has weaker links with the southern Cape than the other two varieties.  The new H. monticola var. asema from Calitzdorp, as well as the discovery of H. outeniquensis, also need to be taken into consideration.

It appears that the dark-green erect plants from southeast and east of Albertinia (Cooper Siding) should be regarded as H. chloracantha and not as H. floribunda.  The population at Draaihoek to the north, includes plants which resemble H. parksiana and it may best be related to H. floribunda.  Plants with erect leaves growing with H. parksiana at Groot Brak have been regarded as H. floribunda and it is more probable that they are in fact also H. chloracantha.  It seems improbable that three similar species, in which the affinities with one another are in question, can co-occur.


a. var.chloracantha.
The typical variety is taken to be the very proliferous green forms around Herbertsdale and along the Gouritz River as it passes through the Langeberg mountains.  While Breuer and Metzing do not use the Salm Dyck illustration to typify this name, that illustration and the icon in Bergers revision in Fas Pflanzenreich, are really the main sources for the application of the name.

3321 (Ladismith): Gouritz Gorge (-DC), Burgers 2317 (NBG) N. Herbertsdale (-DD), Bayer 411/75 (NBG).  3421 (Riversdale): Herbertsdale (-BB), Smith 5053, 5156 (NBG).

b. var. denticulifera (V.Poelln.) Bayer
:112(1976).  Bayer :32(1982).  H. angustifolia var. denticulifera V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 41:194(1937), ibid. 44:228(1938).  Type: Cape, Montagu, Mrs Helm. Not preserved.  Lectotype (B&M): icon (B).:  H. angustifolia var. lilliputana Uitew. Sukkulenta 43(1953).  Type:  Not preserved.  Neotype (designated here): CAPE-3422 (Mossel Bay): Hill above Mossel Bay (-AA), Courtenay-Latimer in Smith 5223 (NBG).

denticulifera: bearing small teeth.

This variety is dark-green and occurs around Little Brak and Mossel Bay.  It also occurs along the lower Gouritz Valley where it has been previously assigned to H. floribunda.  Von Poelnitz (1938) cited a number of improbable localities for this element as a variety of H. angustifolia.  These included Montagu, Calitzdorp, Riversdale and Great Brak.  It is generally concluded that the plants originated from the greater Great Brak area.  Uitewaal’s smaller plants – var. lilliputana – are comparable with the population which occurs within the town of Mossel Bay itself.  The specimen cited from the Duiwenhoeks causeway is also one with erect pointed leaves which draws the relation with H. floribunda into the discussion.

3420 (Bredasdorp): Duiwenhoks Causeway (-BD), Muller-Doblies 82/098 (NBG).  3421 (Riversdale): Cooper Siding (-BB), Bayer 3586 (NBG); 3km N Gouritzmond (-BD), Smith 7519 (NBG), Bayer 3586 (NBG).  3422 (Mossel Bay): 2km N. Mossel Bay (-AA), Smith 2896 (NBG); 1km N. Mossel Bay (-AA), Smith 3958 (NBG); Mossel Bay (-AA), Smith 5223, 5750 (NBG); Little Brak (-AA), Smith 5751 (NBG); Great Brak (-AA), Bouwer (NBG).

Inadequately located: ex hort. Armstrong in Smith 2830 (NBG).

c. var. subglauca V.Poelln.,
Kakteenkunde 9:135(1937).  Bayer :106(1976).  Bayer:32(1982).  Type: Cape, Great Brak, Mrs Helm.  Not preserved.  Neotype (B&M): Great Brak, Hurling & Neil (BOL).

subglauca: nearly glaucous.

As stated above, this variety differs in coloration from the other two varieties and in the larger sparser spines.  There is a specimen cited rather vaguely as from near Zebra which could perhaps be H. outeniquensis.

3422 (Mossel Bay): Great Brak (-AA), Fourcade 18 (NBG), Hurling & Neil (BOL), Ferguson 1 (BOL), Smith 2889 (NBG); E. Great Brak (-AA), Smith 2885, 3957 (NBG); Bayer in KG(98/71 (NBG); George (-AA), Malherbe in NBG304/40 (NBG), Fourcade in NBG2617/34 (NBG).

Inadequately located: ex hort, Pillans (BOL). Heyn’s farm near Zebra, van der Bijl 474 (BOL).

Volume 2, Chapter 1:- The curious variability of Haworthia floribunda

M.B.Bayer, 16 Hope Str., 8001 Cape Town.
R.W.Kent, 16206 Rostrata Rd., Poway, CA92604.

Haworthia Revisited was drafted in 1996, and since then the first author has undertaken a number of field excursions in an attempt to clarify uncertainties.  The putative nature of species of Haworthia as recognised by Bayer (listed in Haworthia Revisited, Umdaus 1999) and the importance he attached to geographic distribution are stressed in all his publications.  This is because these so-called species seem to vary continuously with one another in that context of geography.  Classification seeks to portray relationships and origins.  Hence when a species has been recognised, a cognitive attempt has been made to speculate on phylogenetics, where distribution must be significant.  In the case of Haworthia floribunda this proves rather difficult, and this article is a discussion of the relationship of this species to its possible relatives.  The point we do make is that the Linnaean binomial system, as well as cladistic methods, seem neither to deal with nor portray the problem of reticulate relationships.  In other words, the nomenclatural system and the way we classify plants and analyse their relationships assumes linear dichotomy in those relationships.

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Volume 5, Chapter 17:- New populations of Haworthia chloracantha, Haworthia parksiana and Haworthia kingiana

In Chapter 1 of  Haworthia Update Vol. 2, I discussed H. chloracantha and H. parksiana in the context of H. floribunda.  Fig. 8 in that publication is labelled “North of Herbertsdale” when in fact it is MBB7425 from the Wolwedans Dam north of Great Brak (see fig.1).  This was deliberate and not seriously misleading as the plants from the two respective populations are virtually identical.  The correct images for that “north of Herbertsdale” are in Haworthia Revisited and labelled JDV87/80 and 97/138.

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Variable chloracantha

Variability – sounds so hackneyed now but still it does not seem as if anybody “gets it”. These are plants from two populations of chloracantha east of Herbertsdale. Two very different soils. One is shale and I show only a single plant from there – the left one of the three unearthed plants. There the plants were “ordinary” chloracantha. But the other locality was exposed “pressure burst” kaolinite such as you get around Riversdale and westwards. Some of the plants reminded me of floribunda and even parksiana. I know of only 6 populations around Herbertsdale and there the plants are different too.

7866 H. chloracantha. E Herbertsdale 100_7472 7827 & 7866 H. ch;oracantha. Herbertsdale 100_7505 7866 H. chloracantha. E Herbertsdale 100_7458 7866 H. chloracantha. E herbertsdale 100_7459 7866 H. chloracantha. E Herbertsdale 100_7460 7866 H. chloracantha. E Herbertsdale 100_7461 7866 H. chloracantha. E Herbertsdale 100_7462 7866 H. chloracantha. E Herbertsdale 100_7463 7866 H. chloracantha. E Herbertsdale 100_7464 7866 H. chloracantha. E Herbertsdale 100_7465 7866 H. chloracantha. E Herbertsdale 100_7466 7866 H. chloracantha. E Herbertsdale 100_7467

Mystery – part 40, Albertinia 5

112. 2020.03.26 – The trickster – H. floribunda. This is the Draaihoek Albertinia site where I was not sure (ca 1970) if it was floribunda or chloracantha. I went back to check ca 2001). The place was grazed and trampled to a frazzle – sheep and/or ostriches. I found a few specimens right at the far end. They pass for floribunda and especially if you recognise that floribunda has a good many faces. The last picture is from west looking east – so this is the top rocky edge of a south facing drop. The water is the Valse River. Dekenahii is across the way.

So in these very distressing times, lets see where we go next.

113. 2020.03.26 – This is H. chloracantha from east of Tweekuile along the Valse River north Albertinia, so also further east from Draaihoek. A small dense patch of plants under bush at the upper end of a south facing slope – escaping full exposure to sunlight. A few leaves show the round leaf tip of floribunda but the plants are also much more proliferous than I have ever seen in that ‘species’. It is very useful to consider all the variants in this complex to see how and why I arrive at my opinions on their classification. This is not a glamour complex but as systems they work in exactly the same way. I really regret not having good pictures and especially since I first saw this species at Great Brak in 1969.

114. 2020.03.27 – Ouvloere is east of the previous as that is from Tweekuile but the plants are really odd. Unlike the previous these plants are in and under low ground hugging plants at the top of a slope. This must be about 8km west of the Gouritz River.

How would you know this is H. floribunda?

The answer to … How would you know this is H. floribunda is because I say so? So please forgive my apparent arrogance. I would dearly love to show you all the plants and populations that lead to this conclusion because you would surely be able to then make that decision for yourself. These two pictures are also floribunda from very near to ‘splendens’ at Dekriet (Snymanskraal) west of Albertinia. A strange habitat where the rocky ferricrete is exposed but with a collapsed eroded depression in which the plants grow around the edges. When this time of tribulation is over, I hope to go back and get habitat pictures. Reminiscent of parksiana?.

115. 2020.03.30 – The Valse Rivier joins the Gourits at Die Eiland where there is now H. chloracantha and eastwards. It supplants floribunda entirely – or is it truly just the same species? As a serious aside – we may get a total 3-day Covid-19 lockdown of all internet and tele-communication in the next 7 days. Keep calm, keep safe.

116. 2020.03.30 – The last post was of plants from N Die Eiland (Buisplaas). From the top edge of a west facing shale cliff. These are also Buisplaas but from a low north facing slope of alluvium. I never imagined chloracantha could be so abundant and so resistant to the impact of habitat. But it becomes one of the most remarkable of the species on closer scrutiny.

The great awakening will be when one can truthfully and openly write about, discuss, the reality of basic life forms i.e. species. When we are free of the prejudices, beliefs and misconceptions of science as practiced and religions as preached. The great awakening will be when one can truthfully and openly write about, discuss, the reality of basic life forms i.e. species. When we are free of the prejudices, beliefs and misconceptions of science as practiced and religions as preached.

Mystery – part 41, Albertinia 6

117. 2020.03.31 – This is just north of Herbertsdale under renosterbos on shale. A serious lack is pictures of a population nearby on a very steep, north-facing crumbling clay ‘cliff’ with karoid bushveld plants growing wherever they can fit. Here the plants make enormous clumps and themselves are individually large to leaves 60-70mm. Also missing are pictures from a short way to the south-west on an east-facing cliff of conglomerate. There the plants are small, solitary and dark-colour red 😊. These demonstrate the impact of habitat. Of course also seriously lacking is a species definition and agreement on the issue. Systems, systems, systems.

118. 2020.03.31 – This is chloracantha further south at Johnson’s Post with ‘pygmaea’. Large dense clumps seemingly holding clay pedastals together. These are associations of systems and in my opinion very significant in recognising where species stop and start. Not that this simplifies the problem. Incidentally chloracantha in a small green form also occurs in the Gouritz River gorge through the Langeberg.

119. 2020.04.01 – Chloracantha occupies an incredible range of habitats and varies accordingly. These are it at Cooper Siding in feldspathic sandstone. Not far away it is also in transitional zone to shale and the plants also looking a bit different. In both cases it is with “pygmaea” and I have see hybrids despite the season difference in flowering times. Curiously I was once asked … “how do you know it is a hybrid?”. Well I do not know how to answer that. It is like asking, “How do you know you which is your left foot?”.

Lawrence Loucka – Please say some more about hybrids. ‘I know it when I see it.’ may be true but how to confirm? What do you see – parent proximity, morphology, flowering overlap, habitat? If not hybrid, then what?

Bruce Bayer – I think you are asking me to identify my left foot. What can it possibly be if it is not derived from the plants before your eyes? I forget now the name of the hybridity test based on mensuration and statistical analysis. I tried to use it on what were such obvious hybrids between herbacea and reticulata – and as you well know in H. mirabilis var sublineata, getting significance requires an inordinate sample size. So of course it is parent proximity. whereabouts of the “hybrid”. And what is difference in flowering time where there is 4-5 months between peak flowering time of each putative parent and a flowering time that can be acted on the the seasonal rainfall – and individual plants that simply do their own thing. With DNA we cannot even separate the species so how do we use that? It comes down to nitpicking and finding a way to discount the obvious. How do you confirm that all the plants before your eyes are two species when you have no definition of what the word means and cannot specify the actual criteria that are common to the respective entities? That is why it is possible to just come out with names like hammeri, joleeniae, vincentii etc. and find an innocent accepting audience? 😄 Best way of looking at the issue.

Jakub Jilemicky – Aren’t these floribunda v. dentata?

Bruce Bayer – Jakub, I would like you to detail the differences between floribunda and chloracantha.There seems to be a serious misconstrual of classification here. First you have to arrive at the species name and then at the next level down. In Haworthia I have virtually abandoned “nextleveldown” because the species level is already confounded. You cannot get a variant of one species in a population of another where the populations and species are arranged and derived as they are in Haworthia. Can someone explain it better? Prof Cronquist once asked of his taxonomic proteges and fellow experts…”Do we know what we are doing?” By and large haworthia taxonomists do not even seem to know what taxonomists even should be doing. 😄

Jakub Jilemicky – True, this group of plants are very challenging. I’m using your books as a source of taxonomy. I have seen quite a few population from Hartenbos in the East to Riversdale in the West. And I’m lucky to grow quite a big collection from many sources of this plants, so I can compare them both in cultivation and in nature. Floribunda v. dentata seems for me to continue into chloracantha v. denticulifera. Around Gouritz river it is almost impossible for me to distinguish them. Towards Herbetsdale the same happens with chloracantha. There are a few characteristic true chloracantha populations north of town, others are resembling floribunda. Yes, there can be selected true TL plants, which are characteristic, but all between seems for me to be one big continuity🤷‍♂️

Bruce Bayer – Yes Jakub, it is not just this group. I think I actually generated the name floribunda var. dentata. In retrospect it was a stupid thing to do because there is no such a taxonomic entity IF you realize that “variety” should mean a population entity and not “variant” meaning individual variation – in which case “form” would be better? My posts are doing what you describe – showing that there is 1/2/3? big continuity/ies.

Cooper Station – Jakub Jilemicky

Bruce Bayer – Thanks Jakub – I also very recently posted toothed chloracantha at Copper Siding. I say chloracantha only because there are none of the stronger floribunda features i.e. smoother surfaces, rounded leaf-tips, keel absent for large part of leaf end, and greyish green. The outward turning leaves are more floribundoid than chloracanthoid and we cannot forget parksiana. If we could just get over this hurdle of talking sensibly about these obvious mismatches and evidences of continuity, we might begin to properly look at real problems like the Hex valley plants. the Prince Albert problems, grasp what Kaboega populations tell us and many more.

120. 2020.04.01 – Stay calm, be patient, all things will pass. I found I had pictures of ‘pygmaea vincentii’ from Welgevonden = Lodewykskraal east Albertinia. Was there with Kobus and there were countless plants then – August 2008. They were not well drawn into the soil and perhaps very vulnerable to close grazing? In this crisis it is worth considering that nature does not need us and can smile at our puny efforts, destructive ways and thoughtless actions. Also bless us for the few things we may be doing right. It is all under control.

Frantisek Vesely – Hello Bruce, all these plants were growing on the same spot?

Bruce Bayer – Hello Frantisek. It is a north facing rocky slope about 1km wide and I remember many plants all along the slope in about a 50m wide band. That was 2008. This March we could only find 3 plants very shrunken into rock cracks. It is possible that others are simply sand and debris covered in a very desiccated state and rain may bring them out.

Jakub Jilemicky – I was there in 2011 and after few hrs search we found only 5-6 plants in rock crevices…

Frantisek Vesely – Thank you. I would say there could be some interaction of var. esterhuizenii with var. turgida/suberecta. That would explain why the plants which are considered to be H. vincentii just look so odd but on the other hand they are somewhat intermediate between these two.

Bruce Bayer – Thank you Jakub – useful info

Bruce Bayer – Frantizek good observation. I wish I could express or,firstly, understand it better. It is not necessarily “interaction” but rather a question of distribution of genetic material on the basis that there is a single gene pool interconnected in some incomprehensible way and expressing itself on the basis of localised habitats. It is difficult to believe that at one time there were a great deal more populations and more gene exchange between them than there is now. Perhaps that was the case. The nearest “turgida” to vincentii is “rodinii” but we have the problem that here in the east the total gene pool is reducing from a mirabilis/retusoid (incl turgida) to retusoid (incl turgida)/ pygmaeoid (incl retusa/emelyaoid). Vincentii would represent the fade out of mirabilis via splendens and esterhuizenii. Dekenahii and fusca the fade out of retusa and fade in of pygmaea. It is something that needs exploration both literally and figuratively in the mind.

121. 2020.04.02 – This is a population from east of Herbertsdale. Here they grow in kaolinite and are buried up to their leaftips. Very much like those decaying white ‘pressure burst’ common in the Riversdale area and of course westwards. In the first picture of three clones, the one on the left is a plant from S Herbertsdale. How can you now name this population? There is something very wrong in the way we use and apply names? What do we mean by the word “species”. To say this population 3km E Herbertsdale has elements of parksiana and floribunda implies that they truly are different species. How would we know?

Mystery – part 42, Albertinia 7

122. 2020.04.07 – Like with the present pandemic we are coming to something difficult to comprehend. I went to Botlierskop, Rooiheuwel farm, north of Klein Brakrivier hoping to see a slender long-leaved form of Haworthia chloracantha (a JDV record). Instead I came across this population of rather stubby plants. Keep this population in view – two close populations to follow and then an issue of proximities!

Also on a rock slab about 70 meters away. Is this still chloracantha or is it parksiana?

Frantisek Vesely – We saw the similar situation – on slope there was chloracantha (+ hybrids), on flat a few dozens meters away there was parksiana and its hybrids with chloracantha – not difficult to recognize what happened there as they were so close and mixed up but on one spot most of them were chloracantha-like and the other spot were more parksiana-like plants.

600M away there is a population of uniform parksiana. But how can we say hybrids for the previous? How long have these populations been in existence? Is transfer of pollen a problem and over what distance? There seem to me to be a host of unanswerable questions in general about hybridization as an explanation for variability. It is linked to the more general question of co-occurrence – of mixing or non-mixing of species. Ring clines? Also something we should really try to document – i.e. the proximity of the various species to one another. Add to that the occurrence of hybrids.

123. 2020.04.09 – This population, east of Riversdale, is an aspect that really calls for attention – proximity of kinds (species) and hybridization. At this locality there is H. retusa and H. floribunda in contiguous/adjunct/closely neighbouring populations. Among the floribundas there is a single putative hybrid? How often does this happen and why are kinds (species) so seldom growing together? When is an entire population comprised of hybrids? What comes in between? Let me just add that I see very little in the taxonomic literature dealing with the problems of variability that exist in many genera other than Haworthia. It is simply obscured.

I am quite aware that my comments are often cryptic and often deliberately so. As a society we are very misled and never more so than in respect of the present pandemic. I do not see how we can put that aside and think that we can at the same time depend on our collective intelligence to solve and understand anything else e.g. taxonomy of Haworthia. It is a conscious creation and that consciousness has to be lifted to a level that we see things for what they really are. Hybridity is at the root of species definition and as such a critical step to recognising species. At the same time geographical location is also critical. To to think anything can be explained while there is a paranoia about revealing it, is wishful thinking.

2020.04.12 – There is a problem with classification where priority creates difficulty. The name Haworthia retusa has nomenclatural priority over the name turgida, when in actual fact the turgida form is the main one and retusa is a variant of that. It is much easier to then understand, describe and explain the idea that retusa becomes mutica in the west, retusa and mirabilis become pygmaea in the east, while turgida and mirabilis become emelyae in the Karoo. That might be where I should now leave things. There are a hoard of complexities that just get lost in the needs and activities of the majority who have no need of much more than a lot of desiderata.