Haworthia Revisited – 24. Haworthia mutica

24. Haworthia mutica Haw. Revis :55(1821).  Scott, Aloe 11:4(1973).  Bayer :139(1976).  Bayer, Excelsa 8:50(1978).  Bayer :48(1982).  Scott :118(1985).  Type: Cape.  Not preserved.  Lectotype: icon (K).  Epitype (B&M): Bredasdorp to Swellendam, Soesriver, Bayer in KG623/69 (NBG):  H. otzenii Smith, JS.Afr. Bot. 11:72(1945).  Type: CAPE‑3419 (Caledon): Bredasdorp (-BD), Otzen 6 in Smith 5478 (NBG).

mutica: without a point.

Rosette stemless. non-proliferous, 6-8cm φ.  Leaves 12-15, retused, blunt-tipped, brownish-green, in habitat developing purplish cloudiness, barely pellucid with several longitudinal lines.  Inflorescence simple, to 20cm.  Flowers white with brownish veins.

1982 – The name mutica is suggested by the leaf tips which are rounded.  This species is very similar to H. retusa and if the two species do meet it can be expected to be in the area between Heidelberg and the lower Breede River.  H. mutica is only known west of the Breede River south of Swellendam, but it occurs at one locality north of the river at Drew.  In the field the venation and leaf colour is slightly purplish.  It is interesting to note that it is very often difficult to distinguish between smooth forms of H. pygmaea and H. mutica.  In one comparison of the flowers the only difference that could be detected was that the bracts were purplish‑veined in H. mutica as opposed to greenish in H. pygmaea.  H. mutica leads a rather precarious existence in an intensively farmed area, and survives on rocky shale ridges.  It covers nearly the same distribution range as H. mirabilis but the two species never appear to grow in the same habitats.  H. mutica is generally more glaucous than H. retusa and has a characteristic bluish‑brown coloration.

1999 – A relationship has always been sought between this species and H. retusa.  However, a more appropriate solution lies in the recognition that H. retusa should either be enlarged to encompass H. turgida and all its variants, or regarded as a separate species with no interaction with others in terms of its range or distribution – a difficult decision.

a. var. mutica.
This is the element west of the Breede river.  It was once known from northwest of Drew (north of the Breede River) from where it was collected and sold in pre-war times.  That locality has since been taken in by wheat fields, and a single solitary clone survives in the Karoo Botanic garden collection.  Leaves of this clone have been propagated.  It is remarkable for the white opacity which has subsequently developed in the leaves, and which is also appearing in offsets of the original clone.

Distribution: 3320 (Montagu): N. Drew (-CC), Smith 5614 (NBG); Drew (-CC), Fouche in PRE 34916.  3419 (Caledon): E. Riviersonderend (-BB), Otzen 6 in Smith 5478 (NBG); 10km E. Riviersonderend (-BB), Smith 3270, 3460, 3970, 5478 (NBG), Bayer 4479 (NBG); Klipdale (-DB), (NBG).  3420 (Bredasdorp): E. Stormsvlei (-AA), Smith 3249 (NBG); Noukloof (-AA), Bruyns (NBG); Rietfontein (-AA), Bayer 2526 (NBG); Crodini (-AB), Bayer (NBG); Soesriver (-AC), Bayer 4473, in KG623/69 (NBG); Kykoedie (-AC), Bayer in KG83/77 (NBG); N. Kykoedie (-AC), Bayer in KG327/71 (NBG); Badjieskraal (-AC), Bayer in KG85/72 (NBG); Haarwegskloof (-AD) Venter 2 (NBG).

Inadequately located: ex hort, Malherbe, Smith 3430 (NBG); Caledon, Hurling & Neil (BOL); Bredasdorp, Theunissen (BOL).

b. var. nigra var. nov. 
Type: CAPE-3420 (Bredasdorp): Kransriviermond (-BB), Smith 5753 (NBG, Holo.).

nigra: black.

Differs from the type in its very dark coloration and its occurrence south and east of Heidelberg.  (A var. mutica colore perfuscato differt).

This variety from Kransriviermond has been known for a long time and was distributed as H. retusa.  It is very dark green, although this does depend on growing conditions as under softer light it may be quite green.  There are also populations, probably of this variety, just east of Heidelberg.

Distribution: 3420 (Bredasdorp): Kransriviermond (-BB), Smith 5753 (NBG); Heidelberg (-BB), Smith 5509 (NBG); E. Heidelberg (-BB), Smith 5755 (NBG); 2km W. Heidelberg (-BB), Smith 6196, 6567 (NBG); N. Heidelberg (-BB), Smith 5509 (PRE).

Volume 2, Chapter 5:- The White Widow Reunion – Haworthia mutica

During my early years with the Karoo Botanic Garden, in fact it never really got any better, my time spent looking for Haworthia was largely my own.  This meant hasty weekend trips, or looking for haworthias secondarily to other things and more general goals.  Also it was a question of scale.  I needed to see populations and plants from across the entire distribution range.  So those years were spent rather as reconnaissance and in checking all the herbarium and other records.  I came across a letter among Major F.R. Long’s papers which put me on the track of a Mr P.L. Meiring of Bonnievale, south-east of Robertson.  This was a copy of a letter from Meiring to Triebner in Windhoek arranging for the collection and purchase of an Haworthia from Drew Station.  The result was that 200 plants were sold for the huge price (for those days) of 1s each – allowing for inflation this would have been worth about R14ea in today’s currency.

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Volume 2, Chapter 6:- How to understand Haworthia mutica var. nigra

(When I wrote the first part of this essay, I was anticipating completing it in three parts.  However, I was also in the process of exploring more widely and thoroughly, and the problem and its explanation seemed to grow exponentially.  The result was seven essays, and they are presented here as close as possible to their original format.  The purpose is to show how a classification should have predictive value, and how an understanding of plants can develop, or fall apart, as more information accumulates. The seven parts were published in Haworthiad 17:1:24-32, 17:2:53-54, 18:1:21-33, 18:2:52-57, 18:3:92-101).

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Volume 2, Chapter 13:- A trip to Bredasdorp

This essay was published in Haworthiad 16:86, 2002.

I wrote an article about Haworthia rossouwii in Aloe 38:31(2001), in which I resurrected this old name to replace that of my own H. serrata.  This was necessary because I had found this plant (because of its localisation and its abundance there, it is better to say ‘this species’) at two places near Bredasdorp as opposed to where I had described my species from near Heidelberg.

One needs to know something about the geography and geology of the Southern Cape (and the Overberg as a part of it is also known) to really follow all the ramifications of any discussion about Haworthia, including this one.  In fact one needs to know a whole lot more, and I will also try to explain that and its implications for the collector and Haworthiophiles.  This “whole lot more”, I will call the Corporate Mind because it includes so much – so remember CM!  If I regard H. rossouwii as a species, I have to consider all the plants and all the places where they grow in order to determine the nature of this particular system of living things.  As I explained in my article, there is a problem with the fact that little is actually known about the Haworthias of the Overberg.  They occur in small populations scattered over a fairly wide area which has been heavily impacted on by agriculture.  Thus about 90% or more of the Overberg is now wheatfield or pasture.  Like Gasteria carinata, which is also a Southern Cape species, Haworthia is associated with rocky outcrops and thus also with the geographical erosion and drainage systems of the area.  It is quite probable that cultivation has had relatively very little impact on Haworthia in terms of actual available and suitable habitat.

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Volume 5, Chapter 10:- Haworthia ‘enigma’ and H. mutica var nigra.

7778 H. mirabilis. Komserante 4900

If the name “H.enigma” applies to the plant (or plants) from east of Riversdale at Komserante, it is a name that I really do not advise to be taken seriously from a botanical point of view.  It is useful at population level and to demonstrate the nature of classification difficulties but it is a minor problem in so far as those difficulties extend.  The plants were first shown to me by J. Dekenah on the same day that he also showed me ”H. magnifica” in the Nature Reserve just south of Riversdale that is less than 3km away. My impression then was that it was the same element even if it did look a bit different. The plants are quite large (to 70mm diameter), fairly tubercled and often with lines in the upper retused area of the leaf face.  While I originally classified “H. maraisii” under “H. magnifica”, I later separated them because it seemed so incongruous to include all the variants of the western “H. maraisii” with the few populations of “H. magnifica” then known.  Also, as Essie Esterhuizen pointed out, “H atrofusca” as a variant of “H. magnifica”, seemed to be more dominant than had been realized.  There were several other complications largely due to ignorance. Since my revision I have done so much more exploration and turned up so much new material that I have been forced to the conclusion that there is really one main element involved and that is H. mirabilis. This is where I believe the Komserante plants belong and the difference from the Nature Reserve population is due to a degree of infusion of H. retusa.

I revisited the site with Kobus Venter many years ago but did not look at a reported second population higher up the hill, taking it to be a little different based on plants I saw in Kobus’ collection. What was on my mind while we were recently exploring the area further east to examine the possible connection of H. mirabilis “magnifica” to “splendens” (and which we confirmed), was the fact I had never seen Kobus’ plants from Kruis Rivier northeast of Riversdale other than in Kobus’ collection. The plants I saw were also generally more robust than “H. magnifica” and more evenly tubercled. Kobus kindly took me to that Kruis River locality and much to my surprise the plants were in flower late October (see JDV92/65 Figs1). This is quite wrong for H. mirabilis, which is essentially a summer flowering species. I later went again to explore Komserante more thoroughly and to look at both the “magnifica” populations to which I believe the name “H. enigma” has been applied.  he populations are in fact no more than 75m apart and cannot be considered to be genetically discrete at all (see MBB7778 Figs 2, and MBB7779 Figs 3). While it is true that the habitats are slightly different, this is reflected in the plants that at the upper slope of the hillside are vegetatively more robust and even clump forming, while those lower down in a bushier grassier habitat tend to be solitary and more withdrawn into the soil. These plants flower in summer and it is evident to me that there must have been some genetic exchange with H. retusa that grows approximately 200m away on the same hillside.

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Volume 7, Chapter 3:- A field trip to the Potberg area.

These field trips are always made with some objective in mind in respect of new exploration.  In this case I wanted to get more pictures of H. mutica as it is a species that I have few digital images of.  There were also localities that I remembered from the days when I was sweeping the countryside at a fairly coarse scale and was not much bothered by detail.  I confidently expected the number of real species conforming to that in other fields of botany and zoology, to be in the region of 33.  I never dreamed that such divergent views would, or even could, arise from less information than even then available to me.  So while 450 names were whittled down to the mid-hundreds by me, students of the genus have in recent years pushed that up to the 600 mark.  My opinions have been couched in quite conservative terms but it is a problem of the nomenclatural system that an identification in respect of a Latin name evokes a reality that does not exist.  I maintain that the problems we experience in Haworthia are no different to that which exists in many animal and plant genera.  I think that primarily this is because of the absence of insight into, and understanding of, the actual nature of species and the two dimensional model we use to relate them.  Species are very variable systems because they have to be to survive the constantly changing world they occupy.  In this article I am just going to present images of plants within populations of four different species viz. H. variegata, H. minima, H. mirabilis and H. mutica.

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Volume 7, Chapter 4:- What is typical Haworthia mutica?

A supposed new species of Haworthia viz. H.groenewaldii Breuer, is described in an article authored in Alsterworthia 11.2:13-17 by Breuer, Marx and Groenewald.  It presents the description of this supposed new species from Buffeljags east of Swellendam that I would simply have identified as another variant of H. mutica.  This is not because I am confounded by the variability among the plants in the genus, or even in any one species.  I recognize the species as systems of populations in which the individuals vary from one another as one would expect in any group of living things that maintains the flexibility to adapt to constantly changing world conditions.  In this even time becomes a variable.  I think species are very important elements if the whole of creation and not just for taxonomist and collector activity.  Other people have other ideas of what species are, so my disagreement is hopefully forgivable..

Although H. mutica was described by Haworth in 1821 it was not allied to a South African field population until recognized by Col Scott in 1985.  G.G. Smith had failed to recognize it when he described his H. otzenii in 1945.   The type by which the name is supported is a Kew illustration reproduced here as Fig. 1.  This then is what one would expect a typical representative of the species to look alike.  Now the ever present problem in Haworthia, is that no two plants in a population may look quite the same.  Hence my problem with the description in which the word “typical” is rather bandied about.  It falls into the first aspect of taxonomy.

Firstly a plant is illustrated on the front cover of the respective Alsterworthia that, presumably the authors, state is a typical specimen of H. groenewaldii.  Secondly, Marx is quoted as saying that the “typical H. mutica” grows only 20km west at the farm Dankbaar.   Statements like these are used to strengthen and support opinions and generate a reality that Latin binomials sadly lack.  It so happens that I know both these populations quite well and these statements are news to me.   I do not think the specimen on the front cover is by any means typical of the population at Buffeljags, and certainly not at three sites recently discovered nearby.  The plants at Dankbaar also do not in my opinion fully meet the imputed similarity to fig.1.  See fig 2. for an image of a plant representative of the Dankbaar population.  I would be very hesitant to say that this is typical of Dankbaar plants.

There is a curious problem here in that Scott does not use the type illustration in his Revision and does not state any origin of the plant he uses to illustrate the species i.e. H. mutica.  As far as I am aware the type of a synonym that G G Smith described viz. H. otzenii , came from east of Riviersonderend, but this is for an Otzen collection no. 6.  The type was cited by Scott as Otzen 10 but this is not in the Compton herbarium where it should be.  So I am not sure offhand where that came from.  However, this is not really relevant to the discussion.  I just want to state that finding a plant that matches the type is no mean feat and that it was by sheer chance that in 1969 I came across a population of plants at Hasiesdrift that did.  See fig. 4 and 5.  I selected one image and then realized that it did not have round enough leaf tips to meet need, so I selected another.  In the first picture the leaves tend to have a “mucro” – a small point to the leaf that looks different to a well developed end-awn (bristle) that the leaves can also have.

Another issue is that Gerhard Marx once argued with me that the mooted H. groenewaldii was much nearer to H. mirabilis than to H. mutica as I had suggested.  What he luckily is able to ignore is my observation of the similarity of some plants of H. mutica to H. mirabilis see figs 5 and 6.  I never saw a plant quite like fig. 5 in all my exploration at Buffeljags but Jannie Groenewald collected this one there.  Fig. 6 is not typical of the population either and I used this same figure somewhere else in my writing to comment on the similarity to H. mirabilis ‘badia’ variants at Sandfontein (east of the “typical”).  Gerhard is still more fortunate to be able to ignore the similarity of H. mutica to H. retusa see figs 7 and 8.  I even surprised myself when in looking for a suitable picture, from many, I picked this fig. 7 and find it is also Hasiesdrift albeit a cultivated version.  (There is such an interesting story around the Hasiesdrift site).   Fig. 8 is a representive of H. retusa from Pienaarsriver pictures and I feel sure that readers will agree that the names could be switched.  It was very difficult to ignore pictures from Pienaarsriver that I could have used with figs 5 and 6 in the context of H. mirabilis.

It becomes still more interesting (I would have said complicated but my critics maintain that this variation confuses me and it is actually possible to get it all tidy and neat) when one further compares a plant of H. retusa ‘nigra’ ( fig. 9) with both H. mutica (fig. 7); and then H. retusa ‘nigra’ (fig. 10) with H. retusa (fig. 11).  The latter is in fact from the population where the variant ‘geraldii’  originates.

A last point I can make is that the leaf flecks said to characterize “H. groenewaldii” do occur in H. mutica at Klipport (see figs 12 & 13). One cannot simply ignore the extraordinary chain of similarities that extends across the entire distribution area producing only a slightly different situation at either extreme.

Floral difference is a great issue that is misused to force an opinion.  The flower is extremely difficult to study because the differences across the entire subgenus are so small.  There are complications where, as an example, flowers of H. pulchella ‘globifera’ are indistinguishable from those of H. cymbifomis var. incurvula.  In the subg. Hexangulares there is an incredible problem where floral differences within species exceeds that between species e.g. a flower of a plant of H. limifolia may more closely resemble that of H. coarctata rather than that of another plant of H. limifolia.  It is easy to draw conclusions from small samples of a few flowers from a few populations but one very soon finds that with increasing sample size the most carefully constructed table of differences becomes senseless.  Just when is an ever-aging flower on a stalk at the precise same stage of a flower you want to compare it with?  How many flowers from how many plants are needed to make a valid statement?  Do not forget that the observations must be made on plants on the basis of random selection too.  This is a requirement mostly totally ignored when the more serious question of a species difference is being debated.  That of course brings us back to this casual use of the word “typical” and its intractability.

The hardest problem to deal with is that of flowering time and on the face of it a winter flowering time versus a summer flowering time can be taken to suggest significant difference.  Yet if one considers that a species needs to harbour genetic variation to ensure adaptation to any kind of environmental change and so survival, a different flowering time may be an extremely useful resource.  Then we do have the reality of hybrids between species that do flower at these different times.  So obviously and self-evidently populations of species may exist that has arisen from such hybridization between plants that flower at different seasons.  The capacity of plants and animals to synchronize breeding periodicity is well-known.

I close with my observation that H. mutica is an assorted group of plants that seem to fall in some middle zone between H. mirabilis and H. retusa.  Hence in the west we have H. mirabilis/ H. mutica/H. retusa ‘nigra’, while in the east we have H. pygmaea (=H. mirabilis+H.retusa ‘retusa’) and H. retusa ‘turgida’.  In the area between there is vast variation of H. mirabilis and H. retusa that get a bit of H. floribunda thrown in too.

So am I confused, or have I confused you?  As Steven kindly put it…’it’s almost as if you were being blamed for nature’s complexities’.  Of course the ultimate reality is that we each have our own idea of what “species” are, and here I have used my version!

Volume 7, Chapter 5:- Still more Haworthia mutica and Haworthia mirabilis

It so happens.  Heidi Hartmann first visited the Karoo Garden more than 35 years ago and it has been very difficult for me to pay attention both to her mesembs and all my other plant interests.  In the last few years she has been working on Acrodon.  This is a small genus of only 5 to 6 species that occurs in the Southern Cape with much the same distribution and habitat requirements as Haworthia.  She had had some second thoughts on a species she had described as Acrodon calcicola and intimated that she needed photographs to show what proves to be detaching fruits (capsules).  So off we went to get that northeast of Bredasdorp at Rooivlei.  But Nick Helme had about a year before sent me an intriguing picture of a greenish soft looking plant from near the DeHoop Reserve entrance road to the east.  I had considered that it might be an equivalent of the H. muticaXmirabilis population at Die Kop (MBB7500) that Ingo Breuer usefully described as H. hammeri .  I use the name with great trepidation because to say what is correct usage is difficult.  It could pass as a cultivar name, a varietal name or a form name.  I am quite sure it has its origins in the interaction of two species and that is what a botanical name should reflect that; thus H. muticaXmirabilis or however else the nomenclaturists may require.  So these journeys are never without distractions as Rooivlei itself is a remarkable site.  I find that I have few images of the populations of Haworthia that occur there.  The product is nearly all pictures/images.

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Volume 7, Chapter 6:- Field trip to Van Reenens Crest and Niekerkshek.

M B Bayer, PO Box 960, Kuilsriver 7579, RSA.

The objective was to explore some likely habitats previously observed at Van Reenens Crest and nearby.   We extended the scope to include further exploration for Haworthia mutica as I am still questioning the place of this species in the greater scheme of things.  Thus here are four sets of populations that I report on viz. H. mirabilis, H. retusa ‘nigra’, H. floribunda and H. mutica.  See maps Figs 1 and 2 for geographical position.

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Volume 7, Chapter 7:- More on Haworthia mirabilis and H. mutica from east of Bredasdorp.

More on Haworthia mirabilis and H. mutica from east of Bredasdorp.

M B Bayer, PO Box 960, Kuilsriver 7579, RSA

The area concerned is the long and wide contact zone between the Limestone stretching from Bredasdorp to Potberg, and the Bokkeveld shale north of that.  The soils and vegetation of the two areas are grossly different.  The limestones are agriculturally almost useless, while the shales are prime wheat and pasturage producing soils although relatively low yielding.  The vegetation of the shales is Renosterveld and there are very few patches left.  Large areas resemble ecological deserts with nothing of the original surface intact.  Here and there are shale banks and associated quartz outcrops and also some remnants of tertiary deposits that overlie the shale.  Under this deposit layer the shale has decomposed to kaolin and in places there are gravel sheets of fine quartz on white clay.  The skeletal nature of these remnants is the saving grace but it is unbelievable to what lengths farmers must have gone to make fields arable.  Enormous amounts of stone that have been carted away and dumped to make cultivated lands.  Sadly the stone is often dumped on exposed rock and prime Haworthia habitat.  The remnants are still under threat and a mindset that has developed in the road construction and maintenance arena is that roads must be clean and scraped fence to fence.  Similarly there are farmers who want every square inch under control and in subservience to their production needs.  Dense vegetation is abhorred and burnt to control predation of sheep by jackal and lynx.  Vegetation adjoining crops is treated with weedkiller to minimize crop contamination.  Crops are also grown in conjunction with animal production.  When crops are in, the animals are on fallow land and on whatever is left of natural vegetation.   It is the harsh reality of conservation.

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Haworthia mutica (groenewaldii) and its twisted leaves.

In this article Bruce Bayer responds to the notion that apparent leaf twist arrangement is a defining characteristic and further explains his disagreement in recognizing the Buffeljags plants as a new species.  (Also see Haworthia flowers – some comments as a character source, Volume 7, Chapter 4:- What is typical Haworthia mutica?, and Volume 7, Chapter 2:- Further exploration in Haworthia. Further to finale.)  The species definition Bayer uses is that populations are fractal and DNA is governed by mathematical non-linearity.  What does that mean?  We have space with two dimensions latitude and longitude, and we have time with two dimensions – calendar time, and the speed (instability) of the arrangement of the DNA base pairs.  At any moment in linear calendar time there will be an arrangement of the DNA depending on the stability of the DNA.  At one time there will be a clear set of ‘species’ and at another time a different set as the mix of characteristics continually change within and between the populations.  ~ Lawrence Loucka

Haworthia mutica (groenewaldii) and its twisted leaves.
By M.B. Bayer

There is some argument about the status of this population of plants at Buffeljags.  I have explained my opinion of it based on a species definition that I use.  I also have reported on three other populations a short way away at Rotterdam.  Furthermore I have discussed the flowers at length in a flower report.  These are all available free on Haworthiaupdates.org.  Gerhard Marx does not agree.  The disagreement first has its roots in what constitutes a species and Marx stays with the standard view that characters are what define species.  I opt for the view that species are systems related to geographic distribution and to all the elements that drive vegetation and change (evolution + equals change from some unknown initial condition).  I think these patterns of change and difference are fractal i.e. detailed pattern repeating itself.  Perhaps it would be more correct to say that the organization of pattern is according to a mathematical function which is non-linear.  This means that the end product has many different outcomes.  But this is complexity just of argument that none of us can deal with.

What comes into the geographic nature of species is also the nature of habitat.  What happens is that we have a set of apparent species in Haworthia with a known distribution range.  These species are primarily H. retusa and H. mirabilis.  There is clear evidence that H. pygmaea  and H. mutica emerge from a milieu of populations of those two and that H. floribunda is also involvedBuffeljags is geographically central to this arrangement and the habitat (wrongly described in the description of H. groenewaldii) is very unlike those where the named species generally occur.  It is thus no surprise that the plants appear different.  The Buffeljags population and its habitat also differ to a small degree from the west side of the river, but both are essentially geologically fairly recent river alluvial deposit.

Marx is insistent that the plants at Buffeljags are so different as to be a discrete species and I disagree.  My disagreement is based on my experience of characters in plants.  In Haworthia I think these are few and obscure.  Thus it is almost impossible to delineate or circumscribe a species by characters and no one has succeeded in producing an identification key that can work.  All the differences of opinion and argumentation about names come down to this issue of a species definition and the characters available to recognize them.

The essential points made for H. groenewaldii as a species is the shiny leaf surface and the flowering time.  H. mutica does flower four  months earlier – agreed.  But H. marginata in the same close area also flowers similarly out of synchronicity with H. marginata elsewhere, as H. minima was also observed to do.   In elaborating differences for H. groenewaldii, Marx offered the facts that the plants had fish-tail buds and that H. mutica did not.  Very soon after he stated that he did not actually know what the case was in H. mutica.

 Fig. 1 to 9, MBB7801 Haworthia mutica (groenewaldii), Buffeljags.

In addition he maintained that the leaves in H. groenewaldii were different as follows…”In terms of the angled newer leaves of H. groenewaldii, have a look at the plants again and you’ll see the young leaves are consistently twisted sideways.  A spiraling effect. This never shows up in H. mutica”.  I find this statement very odd because  such a structural difference would come down to a difference on the level of genus or even family. So I looked at the plants I have in my possession and provide illustrations here to demonstrate no significant deviation in respect of twisting.  I have even included a picture of a mature plant (fig. 10) of H. mirabilis to show the same “character”. The spiralling effect is universal in the aloids and is even visible in those species with distichous leaves.  In the retusoids, where H. mutica belongs, the leaves have been said to be 5-farious. More usually it is possible to see them as trifarious.  In young seedlings the leaves are bifarious as the very basic  spiral effect comes into play.

I do not think this is a character one can use to distinguish a species at all. There are many cases where it is fairly possible to characterize populations by a wide range of so-called characters. My opinion is that generally in the many species (by my definition) of Haworthia this can virtually only be done at individual plant level. The Buffeljags and Rotterdam populations are simply the western counterparts of populations around Albertinia (eg H. mirabilis ‘splendens’,  H. pygmaea ‘fusca’, H. pygmaea ‘esterhuizenii’) that emanate from the relationship of the prime species that I named above.

Haworthia flowers – some comments as a character source, Appendix 5

Appendix 5.

Haworthia mutica, Sandrift, Drew MBB8018 = KG226/70 = JDV92/64

This is an unusual population in that it is the most northwestern one known although only about 15km from Klipport nearer Stormsvlei.  It is the source of the single plant that developed gross milkiness and for which I coined the name “Silver Widow”.   The population was first recorded by a Mr Meiring who worked as a nurseryman for the Bonnievale Nursery of Hurling and Neil in the years at least prior to World War 2.  There is a letter in the Compton Herbarium archive which records a transaction between Meiring and Triebner of 100 plants as 1s ea (i.e. = 10cents in today’s currency.).  I really struggled to find plants again in a very disturbed area  and eventually did so after I had placed “Silver Widow” there in her pot to see if the flowers would be pollinated in situ.  Indeed they were and then found about 20 plants in a very small area nearby.  This visit owes to the report by Jakub Jilemicky of still more plants a very short distance again from these.  Here there are about 80 plants in an area of about so many square meters.

Illustrations of the plants and flowers are given.  The only comment I can make is to repeat that I never ignored the flowers out of ignorance.  The fact is that we have a number of pretentious experts who have no concept of species other than an inherited vague notion that species have something to do with the capacity to interbreed.  The fact that Haworthia plants do so freely does not handicap their enthusiasm for new species either.  So this is a bit of irony.  My contention was that if you did consider flowers there would be a lot less species than even in my conservative approach.  In fact I am quite sure a competent professional taxonomist might well consider that I have been too generous with species and too kind to my critics.

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