Haworthia Revisited – 10. Haworthia decipiens

10. Haworthia decipiens V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 28:103(1930).  Bayer :111(1976).  Bayer :37(1976).  H. pearsonii Wright sensu C.L. Scott, Aloe 18:7(1980).  Scott :44(1985).  Type: Cape, near Zwartberg mountains, Mrs van der Bijl.  Not preserved.  Neotype (designated here): CAPE-3322 (Oudtshoorn): Kleinsleutelfontein, E. Prince Albert (-AB), Bayer 5157 (NBG).

decipiens: deceiving.

Rosette stemless, slowly proliferous, to 20cm φ.  Leaves broadly ovate sometimes acuminate, relatively thin, marginal spines sparse but broad at the base, bright green in colour.  Inflorescence robust, simple.  Flowers many, densely arranged, broad and flat across top.

1982 – Von Poellnitz recorded this species only once from the Zwartberg Mountain in the Prince Albert district and derived the name from the similarity to H. arachnoidea.  As pointed out in the discussion on H. arachnoidea, there may be a close relationship between these species.  Available distribution information indicates that they may be geographically complementary.  However, at its most westerly point (Klaarstroom), H. decipiens has the broad flat yellowish‑green leaves of H. Iockwoodii but with sparse, short broad marginal spines.  The leaf tips do not die back.  H. decipiens may grow up to 120mm in diameter but it occurs in smaller forms too, only 30‑40mm in diameter.  From Klaarstroom it extends eastward to Springbokvlakte in the south.  Northwards it is found from Klipplaat to Pearston.  However, in this area there is some deviation from the typical form and the plants tend to have translucent areas in the leaf with a tendency to be bluish‑green.  There is thus a suggestion of intergradation with H. bolusii and H. cooperi on the grounds of both superficial similarities and distribution.  The picture in the west is similarly obscure and the forms regarded as H . decipiens east of Uniondale also have leaf translucence, but tend to be a darker purplish‑green.  In the Groot River area west of Campherpoort,  H. decipiens occurs as a dwarfed form with notably incurved leaves.

1999 – Although von Poellnitz described this species in 1930, by 1938 he had still recorded only this single collection.  However, in the absence of a preserved specimen and adequate locality data, there can be no certainty that the original description is correctly interpreted.  In all its guises it is a very common species as recognised here; and the type, as selected here seems to represents the species as it is more generally known.  The type selected by Breuer and Metzing is unfortunate as it is not geographically correct and is better related to the blue-green var. cyanea.

Col Scott has taken the view that H. decipiens is synonymous with H. pearsonii Wright but unfortunately does not consider or refer to H. decipiens sensu Bayer anywhere in his revision.  It is as difficult to relate the Kew illustration (presumably the chosen lectotype) of H. pearsonii to a natural population.  It apparently does not have translucent leaf faces.  H. decipiens of von Poellnitz was a relatively small plant and if indeed it came from north of the Zwartberg mountains as the reference to the Prince Albert district suggests, then it could probably be only as interpreted here, or as a variant of H. marumiana.  Von Poellnitz did not relate his H. decipiens to pearsonii so it is an improbable option.  Scott’s illustration is not representative of either of these interpretations and, without reference to locality, could be of the var. cyanea here described (the blue-green form).  It seems to compare very poorly with the Kew illustration.  The species as recognised here is a very complex one with connections to H. bolusii, H. lockwoodii, H. mucronata, H. cooperi and also H. gracilis.


a. var. decipiens.
It is concluded that von Poellnitz’ species did in fact come from the Prince Albert area where the species transposes to H. lockwoodii.  The var. cyanea is also found in the same general area and it is smaller and with more incurved leaves.  The species is most strongly represented in the Willowmore, Steytlerville area where the plants are large and robust.  The leaves may recurve and are heavily spined with large spines, rather broad and flat at the base.  Interspersed over the same area, and extending to the east, is a smaller form which tends to develop reddish venation.

 Distribution: 3221 (Merweville), Prince Albert (-DC), Bolus 11657 (BOL, PRE).  3224 (Graaff Reinet): near Jansenville (-DC), Smith 3642 (NBG).  3322(Oudtshoorn): W. Prince Albert (-AA), Bayer 5182 (NBG); Kleinsleutelfontein, E. Prince Albert (-AB), Bayer 5157 (NBG); W. Klaarstroom (-BC), Bruyns in KG124/77 (NBG); S. Prince Albert (-CA), Bayer 5261 (NBG).  3323 (Willowmore): Skerpkop, E. Willowmore (-AD), Bayer in KG231/70 (NBG); Constantia (-BB), Bayer in KG140/72 (NBG).  3324 (Steytlerville): Campherpoort (-AA), Smith 3649, 3657 (NBG); Steytlerville (-AD), Rossouw 453 (NBG); Kleinpoort (-BD), Smith 7065 (NBG); Dam se Drif (-CA), Rossouw 478 (NBG), Bruyns 1842 (NBG); S. Steytlerville (-CA), Stayner in KG637/61 (NBG); 3325 (Port Elizabeth): 20km N. Glenconnor (-AC), Long (BOL).

Inadequately located: Kleinswartberg, Wood (BOL).

b. var. cyanea var.nov. 
Type: CAPE-3324 (Steytlerville): Fairview, W. Jansenville (-CD), Bayer 4180 (NBG, Holo.).

cyanea: blue.

Differs in being smaller with incurving leaves and in the bluish-green coloration.  (A var. decipiens foliis venetis incurvatis differt).

This variety occurs north of the mountains between Jansenville and occurs as far to the northwest as Merweville.  It is distinguished from H. arachnoidea by its translucence in the upper leaf and by the more robust spines.  Herbarium specimens will be even more difficult to separate and two specimens cited under H. arachnoidea from the Jansenville area, may in fact be specimens of H. decipiens var. cynaea  It generally differs from H. bolusii var. blackbeardiana also on account of the robust spines but also for the broader and shorter leaves.

Distribution: 3221 (Merweville): De List, Merweville (-CB), Bayer 2377 (NBG).  3222 (Beaufort West): Trakas Kuilen (-DC), Bayer sn.  (NBG).  3224 (Graaff Reinet): Fairview, west of Jansenville (-CD), Bayer 4180 (NBG); Meerlust (-DC), Bayer & Bruyns 6580 (NBG).  3322 (Oudtshoorn): E. Klaarstroom (-BC), Bayer 4440 (NBG).  3323 (Willowmore): S. Rietbron (-AB), Bruyns in KG 439/75 (NBG); Beervlei (-AB), Latti in KG56/78 (NBG); Georgida (-AD), Bayer in KG436/75 (NBG); Zuurberg near Georgida (-AD); Fourcade 4637 (NBG); Nahoogte (-BC), Van Jaarsveld 7865 (NBG); N. Uniondale (-CA), Bayer 2083 (NBG), Bruyns 2241b (NBG).  3324 (Steytlerville): Hanekam (-BD), Bayer 4657 (NBG).

Inadequately located: Georgida, Fourcade 4637 (BOL); Uniondale, Van Blerk (BOL).

c. var. minor var.nov. 
Type: CAPE-3324 (Steytlerville): Kleinpoort, Smith 3588 (NBG, Holo.).

minor: smaller.

Differs in being much smaller, to 6cm φ, with broad incurved leaves, and light green in colour.  (A var. decipiens foliis valde parvioribus incurvatis et subviridibus differt).

Occurs in the Groot River valley between the ranges.  It may be directly related to H. gracilis var. viridis, and the transition to that species can be followed southward through the Zeekoeinek Pass near Baroe.  Northwards the transition is to the var. pringlei.  A similar transition to H. translucens var. viridis occurs in the Perdepoort north of Sapkamma.

Distribution: 3225 (Somerset East):In valley behind Bosberg (-DA), Van Der Westhuizen 287 (PRE).  3323 (Willowmore): Redcliffe (-BA), Bruyns 7052 (BOL).  3324 (Steytlerville): Campherpoort (-AB), Smith 7061 (NBG); Campherpoort (-AA), Barker 5009 (NBG), Bayer in KG 315/70 (NBG); Grootriver, Mara (-AA), Bayer 2076 (NBG); Tuinskloof (-AC), Bruyns 3125 (NBG); NE. Steytlerville (-AD), Smith 3591 (NBG); Waaipoort (-AD), Bayer & Bruyns 6583 (NBG); NW. Die Bordjie (-BC), Bayer & Bruyns 6587 (NBG); Two Waters (-BC), Smith 7244 (NBG); Kleinpoort (-BD), Smith 3588 (NBG); Baviaanskloof (-CA), Wisura 1837 (NBG); Ouplaas (-DB), Bruyns 7040 (BOL).  3325(Port Elizabeth): Sapkamma to Perdepoort (-AC), Bayer & Venter 6618, 6619 (NBG).

d. var. pringlei (Scott) Bayer comb.nov. 
H. pringlei Scott, Bradleya 12:103(1994).  Type: 3224 (Graaff Reinet): Adelaide district (-DD), Scott in PRE8970.

pringlei: for Victor Pringle.

This bright green plant with contrasting white spines has been known for a long time and is represented by many collections from the general area of Jansenville, Klipplaat, Aberdeen, and Pearston.  These are well represented in the Compton Herbarium.  The leaves are incurved and erect to sub-erect and not as broad and ovate-deltoid as in the typical variety.  The connection to Adelaide is by no means clear and there is very little to substantiate this as a discrete element in that area.  This is because H. cooperi, H. bolusii var. blackbeardiana, H. gracilis and H. cymbiformis all present problems of their own there.  I have a collection from Baviaanskrans which I have placed with H. bolusii var. blackbeardiana and it is to a degree very similar to this element.

Distribution: 3223 (Rietbron): S. Aberdeen (-DC), Perry 659 (NBG).  3224 (Graaff Reinet): Aberdeen Road (-CD), C.A. Smith 2806a (PRE); Oatlands (-CD), Smith 907 (NBG); Ebenezer (-DB), Smith 7245 (NBG), Bayer 2070 (NBG); Harefield (-DB), Smith 7244 (NBG); Welgelegen (-DC), Bayer & Bruyns 6581 (NBG); Jansenville (-DC), Stayner in KG188/62 (NBG); Adelaide district (-DD), Scott in PRE 8970.  3324(Steytlerville): Klipplaat (-AB), Branch (NBG); SE. Mt.Stewart (-AB), Bayer & Bruyns 6582 (NBG).

Volume 1, Chapter 1:- Haworthia gracilis, H. cymbiformis and H. cooperi in the greater Baviaanskloof area

I will be disappointed if anyone had concluded I had any fixed ideas on the classification of these three species and their relationship. It has a problem which has long been on my mind. What happened recently (Nov.1998) is that I was offered the use of a time-share apartment at Jeffrey’s Bay, near the mouth of the Gamtoos River. I used this opportunity to spend six days in the field testing my hypothesis concerning the species Haworthia cymbiformis, Haworthia cooperi and Haworthia gracilis, and this is what I would like to record.  Subsequent to that trip (Mar.1999) I planned and executed an excursion through the Baviaanskloof to Grahamstown and Stutterheim in March 1999, and repeated the exploration in Sept. and Oct, 1999.

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Volume 1, Chapter 2:- Haworthia mucronata and its new variety.

A new variety, Haworthia mucronata var. rooibergensis is described in Haworthiad 13:5 (1999).  It raises many questions, and leaves as many unanswered.

What do the authors, Esterhuizen and Battista, mean by Haworthia mucronata?.  A very curious picture emerges.  There are two sources which must be considered recent and hopefully authoritative.  These are C.L.Scott, and M.B.Bayer.  Bayer does not use the name mucronata and therefore Scott must be presumed to be the authority followed.  But Scott regards H. habdomadis as a separate species whereas Esterhuizen and Battista treat it as a variety of H. mucronata.  The two authors also say that their new variety, where it occurs east of Vanwyksdorp (and presumably also their mention of its occurrence south of Calitzdorp), is on the southern boundary of the H. mucronata complex.  Who do they follow?  If they are using Scott (or Von Poellnitz for that matter) they seem to have mistaken the given distribution.  Scott’s distribution map gives five points for H. mucronata which must by south of Vanwyksdorp, and one of these is even west of Mossel Bay.  There are also two points north and east of Queenstown.

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Volume 1, Chapter 4:- Haworthia cooperi and Haworthia bolusii var. blackbeardiana.

One of the greatest difficulties in Haworthia is that of trying to recognise discrete species.  This translates into confusion which can be attributed to writers.  The initial source of confusion is without doubt the nature of the plants themselves, and this is not a problem confined to Haworthia.  The species are often not easily recognisable and discrete entities.  I abhor the statement that the genus is in a state of active evolution, but this does at least seem to convey a message that readers understand, even if it is somewhat hackneyed.  My observations on Haworthia are based on a definition of species as a system of living organisms which are continuous in time and space.  In my New Haworthia Handbook, I suggested that a primary problem lay in separating H. bolusii  and H. cooperi, and for the purposes of that work I largely discounted the secondary problems.  My first concern was to identify core areas and names as working postulates.  This did not mean I was unaware of lesser problems contained within the recognition of those two species.  The purpose of this paper is to present my current understanding of the problem.

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Volume 1, Chapter 5:- The Haworthias of Kaboega.

M B Bayer, 16 Hope Str., 8000 Cape Town.
Ian Ritchie, Box 44, 5850 Somerset East.

Kaboega (also spelt Kabouga) is now an assemblage of farms (De Plaat, Wilgerfontein, Vygeboomfontein, Klipfontein) nestled against the north slopes of the Zuurberg mountains, north of Kirkwood.  It is only about 15km away from Kirkwood as the crow flies, but 150km away by road.  Oudekraal is about 20km east and it is the source of Haworthia angustifolia var. baylissii and Gasteria baylissiana.  There are several records of Haworthia for the Kirkwood area, and von Poellnitz named H. stiemiei (Regarded as insufficiently known and not recognised by Col C.L. Scott or myself) from there.  He also identified plants from Kaboega and Uyepoort, both described as “at Kirkwood”) as H. altilinea var. denticulata (Haw.) V. Poelln.  These plants are all in the melange that I attribute to H. cooperi var. gordoniana (the subject of another long essay).  The Kaboega farm lies on the Kaboega river which drains an area of about 1m ha and then flows through the long Kaboegapoort into the Sundays River just north-west of Kirkwood.  The terrain is very broken with the sandstone Zuurbergs themselves dominating the southern boundary at about 850 to 950m above sea level.  The lowest point on the farm is at about 300m and the northern lesser shale or dolerite peaks reach 550 to 650m.  The vegetation on the sandstones is Dry Mountain Fynbos.  North of this is Karoo Valley Bushveld.  Thus Kaboega is at an ecotone of the karoid veld, Eastern Cape grassland and the Noorsveld (Euphorbia thicket) of the Jansenville area.

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Volume 2, Chapter 10:- Small Hairy Things

(This article was published in Haworthiad 16:43, 2002.  Since then I have implemented name changes and I indicate these in bold type.)

When I have written about Haworthia, I have generally taken as a subject a particular species, in the sense that people regard a species as a kind of thing universally and unmistakably recognisable.  It is not always easy to find such things in the lower life forms, and this is also true for the sub‑genus Haworthia.  Here I am just writing about a few odd plants, without going into the many ramifications that are actually involved.

I am also using the classification, and system, rationalised and explained as best I could in my book “Haworthia Revisited” (1999).  Since that was written, I have been on many more exploratory journeys and have learnt a lot more.  Much of this new information has been published in “Haworthia Update Vol.1”.  There are several essays there, one devoted to the Baviaanskloof and one to the northern Zuurberg (Kaboega).  I explain that the name H. gracilis is probably redundant (I limit its use to H. cooperi var  gracilis as it occurs at Helspoort, Grahamstown. It may actually be better to regard most of the Baviaanskloof populations all as one species ‑ variants of a greater species that will be H. cooperi. I will implement the necessary name changes in another paper (This was done in, and the article is copied, in a preceding essay).

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