Haworthia Revisited – 19. Haworthia maraisii

19. Haworthia maraisii V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 38:194(1935).  idem. 43:104(1938).  Bayer :141(1976).  H. magnifica var. maraisii (V.Poelln.) Bayer, Natn.Cact.Succ.J 32:18(1977).  Bayer :44,106(1982).  Type: Cape, Swellendam, Marais in Swellendam 6410.  Lectotype (Bayer, 1976): Icon (B):  H. schuldtiana V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 41:211(1937).  idem. 43:102(1938).  idem. 49:23(1940).  Type: Cape, Robertson, SW. McGregor G.J. Payne in Triebn. 903.  Lectotype (Bayer, 1976): icon (B):  H. schuldtiana var. robertsonensis idem. 49:25(1940).  V.Poelln., Des.Pl.Life 9:101(1937).  Type: Cape, Robertson, G.J. Payne in Triebn. 991.  Not preserved:  H. schuldtiana var. minor Triebn. et V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 49:25(1940).  Type: Cape, McGregor, G.J. Payne in Triebn. 1096.  Not preserved:  H. schuldtiana var. subtuberculata V.Poelln. ibid. 49:26(1940).  Type: Cape, N. McGregor, G.J. Payne in Triebn. 1089.  Not preserved:  H. whitesloaneana V.Poelln., Desert.Pl.Life 9:102(1937). idem Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 43:107(1938).  H. schuldtiana var. whitesloaneana V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 49:26(1940).  Type: Cape, McGregor, G.J. Payne in Triebn. 1021.  Not preserved. Lectotype (Bayer, 1976): icon (B):  H. schuldtiana var. sublaevis idem. 49:26(1940).  Type: Cape, loc. unknown, Beukman in Long 690.  Not preserved:  H. schuldtiana var. simplicior idem. 49:26(1940).  Type: Cape, Malgas, G.J. Payne in Triebn. 1112.  Not preserved.  H. schuldtiana var. unilineata idem. 49:26(1940).  Type: Cape, N. McGregor, G.J. Payne in Triebn. 1089.  Not preserved.  Neotype (designated here): McGregor (-DD), Payne in PRE34897:  H. sublimpidula V.Poelln., Cactus J 5:33(1936). idem. Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. ibid. 41:212(1937).  idem. 43:105(1938).  idem. Beitr.Zukk.Pfl. 1:45(1939).  Type: Cape, Swellendam, Hurling in Triebn. 847. Not preserved. Lectotype (Bayer, 1976): icon.B:  H. triebneriana var. diversicolor Triebn. et V.Poelln. ibid. 47:9(1939).  Type: Cape, Olifantsdoorn, McGregor, G.J. Payne in Triebn. 1092. Not preserved.  Neotype: CAPE-3319(Worcester): Olifantsdoorn Kloof (-DD), Payne in PRE34881:  H. angustifolia var. subfalcata V.Poelln.  Sukkulentenkunde 4(1951), nom. inval.

maraisii: for W.R.B. Marais.

Rosette stemless, slowly proliferous, 4-7cm φ.  Leaves few to many, very dark green, opaque, usually retused, scabrid with small raised tubercles, tubercles occasionally spined, margins and keel with small spines.  Inflorescence slender, to 30cm.  Flowers outer upper lobes pinched, frequently yellow throated.

This species was previously treated under H. magnifica and it is now taken out as the smaller darker range of populations from Heidelberg westwards.  It is a very common element which is seldom abundant at any one locality.  It co-occurs with H. heidelbergensis, H. herbacea, H. reticulata, H. turgida, and H. mutica of the same sub-genus.  It is found close to H. mirabilis but it does not co-occur with this species and there are two populations known which appear to be intermediate.

Breuer and Metzing note that a lectotype for H. maraisii was designated by Bayer (1982), when in fact a Berlin-Dahlem illustration was regarded as a type by virtue of the non-preservation of anything else.  It is highly unlikely that there was any other preserved material.  They nominate presumably the same illustration as a lectotype.  Then they state that this illustrations is not original material in the sense of the code, but also that a lectotype must be chosen from the original material.

a. var. maraisii.
The variety is typified by a rather robust form at Stormsvlei whereas it is generally a little smaller elsewhere.  Note can be made of forms near Robertson which are rather similar to H. pubescens, forms near Bonnievale in which the leaves are rather guttate (spotted), and to near Eilandia which have short erect leaves.  The Bonnievale plants are particularly difficult because of a number of populations which are uncharacteristic and vary from the recognisable H. maraisii var. meiringii to a small form which co-occurs with the typical variety.  Even the possibility of interaction with H. heidelbergensis cannot be excluded.

Distribution: 3319(Worcester): Trappieskraalkloof (-DC), Bayer 1210 (NBG); Langkloof (-DC), Bayer 1215 (NBG), Moffett (NBG); Dublin (-DC), Stayner in KG400/61 (NBG); S. Goudmyn Bridge (-DD), Bayer in KG163/70 (NBG); Goudmyn (-DD), Bayer 1216 (NBG); 18km Robertson to Bonnievale (-DD), Bayer in KG46/70 Langvlei (-DD), Scott 2211 (PRE); 5km E. McGregor (-DD), Payne & Scott 22 (PRE); 1.5km S. Robertson (-DD), Scott 2210 (PRE); Muiskraalkop (-DD), Hurling & Neil (BOL), Bayer 1707 (NBG); McGregor (-DD), Payne in PRE34883, Smith 3977, 5606, 5765, 5774 (NBG), Triebn. 1089 in Smith 5767 (NBG); W. McGregor (-DD), Bayer 4437 (NBG); McGregor (-DD), Payne in PRE34897; Vrolijkheid (-DD), UPE 3207 (PRE); SE. McGregor (-DD), Smith 3975 (NBG); S. McGregor (-DD), Bayer 1222 (NBG); Olifantsdoorn Kloof (-DD), Payne in PRE34881, Smith 5774 (NBG); Houtbaai Kloof (-DD), Payne in PRE 34887, Smith 5766 (NBG); Bayer & Stayner 2271 (NBG); W. Robertson (-DD), Bayer 1211, 1703, in KG628/69 (NBG); Bonnievale to Robertson (-DD), Smith 3980 (NBG); Skurweberg (-DD),Bayer 1221 (NBG); SW. Robertson (-DD), Smith 3987 (NBG), Bayer in KG688/69 (NBG); 9km W. Robertson (-DD), Bayer in KG630/69, in KG345/71 (NBG); Klaasvoogds (-DD), Smith 398, 2836 (NBG), Bayer 1220 (NBG).  3320(Montagu): Dobbelaarskloof (-CB), Bruyns (NBG); N. Ashton (-CC), Bayer 1708 (NBG); Goedverwacht (-CC), Bayer 2177 (NBG); N. Drew (-CC), Bayer 1219 (NBG); Drew (–CC), De Kok 295 (NBG); Cogmanskloof (-CC), Littlewood in KG520/60 (NBG); 6km N. Drew (-CC), Smith 5615 (NBG); Bonnievale (-CC), Marloth 14186 (PRE); Barrydale (-DC), Smith 7353 (NBG), Bolus (BOL), Hurling & Neil (BOL).  3419(Caledon): N. Napier (-BD), Venter 3 (NBG).  3420(Bredasdorp): Stormsvlei (-AA), Smith 2700, 2367, 5158, 5641 (NBG); 32km Swellendam to Caledon (-AA), Smith 3250, 3251 (NBG); 7km N. Stormsvlei (-AA), Bayer 1213 (NBG); Rondeheuwel (-AA), Bayer in KG326/71 (NBG); 19km N. Bredasdorp (-AC), Smith 5476 (NBG), Bayer in KG35/70 (NBG); Juliusfontein (-AD), Bayer 1221 (NBG); SW. Heidelberg (-BB), Bayer in KG104/74 (NBG); Skeiding (-BB), Smith 7219 (NBG); Ziekenhuis (-BC), Bruyns in KG49/76 (NBG); Potberg (-BC), Burgers 2506 (NBG); Infanta (-BD), Malherbe in NBG673/41 (NBG), Smith 5477 (NBG).

Inadequately located: Swellendam, Marais in STE6410 (NBG), Smith 5055 (NBG); Stormsvlei, Payne (NBG); Robertson, Payne (NBG), Malherbe in NBG172/41; Swellendam, Malherbe in NBG299/40; Bredasdorp, Barker in NBG698/33, Venter 18 (BOL); Stormsvlei to Bonnievale, Lewis in NBG2456/32 (BOL); Robertson, Esterhuysen (BOL), Hurling & Neil (BOL), Herre in STE6379 (BOL); Bonnievale, van der Merwe 94 (BOL); Bredasdorp, Venter 20 (BOL), Hurling & Neil (BOL).


b. var. meiringii Bayer :134(1976).  H. magnifica var. meiringii Bayer, Natn.Cact.Succ.J 32:18(1977).  Bayer :45(1982).  Type: CAPE‑3320(Montagu): E. of Bonnievale (‑DC), Bayer in KG 224/70 (NBG).

meiringii: for P.L. Meiring.

1982 – The var. meiringii appears vegetatively very like a smaller, darker green version of H. herbacea, until it flowers.  Also to the west it intergrades into the more characteristic retuse‑leaved var. maraisii.

1999 – This variety has the growth form of H. herbacea but is a smaller darker green species with the same flowers and flowering time as H. maraisii.  It occurs east of Bonnievale, and westwards transposes to a more rigid-leaved form with erect thin scabrid leaves which practically co-occurs with the typical form of that species.  Immediately west of Bonnievale it appears to intermingle with H. heidelbergensis in dense populations.

Distribution: 3319(Worcester): W. Bonnievale (-DD), Smith 3822 (NBG).  3320(Montagu): Bonnievale (-CC), Marloth 11855 (PRE); E. Bonnievale (‑CC), Smith 3948 (NBG), Bayer in KG 224/70 (NBG); W. Bonnievale (-CC), Bayer 1214, 1217 (NBG), Bayer in KG2/71 (NBG), Bayer 1218, in KG7/71, in KG9/71 (NBG).

Inadequately located: Bonnievale, Malherbe in Smith 3428 (NBG), Smith 5060 (NBG), van der Merwe 95 (BOL); ex hort, Hurling & Neil (BOL); Drew, Hurling & Neil (BOL).


c. var. notabilis (V.Poelln.) Bayer :141(1976).  H. notabilis V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 44:134(1938):  H. magnifica var. notabilis  Bayer, Natn.Cact.Succ.J 32:18(1977).  Bayer :45(1982).  Scott :146(1985).  Type: Cape, Wolfkloof, G.J. Payne in Triebn. 1103.  Not preserved.  Lectotype (B&M): icon (B):  H. schuldtiana var. erecta Triebn. et V.Poelln. ibid. 49:25(1940).  Type: Cape, Bonnievale, Stellenbosch.  Not preserved:  H. nitidula var. opaca V.Poelln., Desert.Pl.Life 20:4(1948).  Type: Cape, Klaasvoogds.  Not preserved:

notabilis: noteworthy.

1982 – The variety notabilis (then of H. magnifica) also has erect leaves which are darker green and more turgid than in the case of H. herbacea.

1999 – There is difficulty in comparing this variety with H. maraisii.  The decision to place it here was taken on account of the variation at the type locality, the similarity of the flowers and flowering times, and also because of the forms originally seen at Klaasvoogds, which were darker and more compact than the more turgid of the Wolfkloof forms.  At Wolfkloof, a turgid, lighter green form grows on the east of the valley where it is on shales.  On the west side is a granite formation and the forms are very toothed and have longer more slender leaves.  There also appears to be a third form a little to the southwest which has the firmer textured leaves of H. reticulata which co-occurs there.  More than one population is now known at Klaasvoogds and the plants appear to vary substantially.  There is yet another population at Agtervink which is comparable to the Klaasvoogds and eastern Wolfkloof plants.  Finally there is H. maculata var. intermedia at Buitenstekloof which has a different flowering time.  It is these odd indistinctly related populations which appear to be influenced by ecotypic (largely geological) factors.  All the populations discussed here are on rocky sites associated with the great Worcester fault line and the granite and dolomite formations which are exposed there.

The original decision to include this element with var. maraisii was based on quite an extensive study of the flowers and flowering times of a wide range of populations in the Worcester/Robertson Karoo.  Variation within those populations which are more obviously of the var. maraisii, seemed to exceed that between them and var. notabilis.  Flowering time was also originally thought to have been a very strong character but it seems to break down here as it may in H. magnifica. 

Distribution: 3319(Worcester): Wolfkloof, Robertson (‑DD), Smith 3984 (NBG,PRE), Scott 2204 (PRE), Bayer 1208, 1209 (NBG), Fourcade 166 (NBG), Fourcade 192 (NBG), Hurling & Neil in NBG 2115/37 (NBG); Robertson (-DD), Payne in PRE39466; Vinkrivier (-DD), Bayer 121 (NBG); Klaasvoogds (-DD), Stayner & Bayer in KG 638/69 (NBG).



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 2, Chapter 2:- A population of Haworthia magnifica/maraisii


After writing Haworthia Revisited in 1996, I became aware of just how inadequate readers seem to be to the task of assimilating all the available literature on Haworthia, in the botanical and intellectual climate in which we live.  It seems as though the more information we have the more confused we become.  In order to generate the material needed to disprove or fortify my classification hypothesis, I have spent a further considerable amount of time in the field and in cultivating plants from seed.  Unfortunately the editorial support and speed of publication has not kept pace with my own effort and much of my writing and my evidence is still in manuscript form.  This short essay was therefore to put forward only a little more evidence to show just how complex plant species are – not necessarily only in Haworthia.

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Volume 2, Chapter 14:- Explaining the name Haworthia intermedia VPoelln. and others

Recently a cybernet note suggested that someone had a good understanding of the taxon/species, H. intermedia VPoelln.  That same writer has been a bit casual in describing new varieties, and in explaining what he actually means when he has used the species epithet accompanying them.  Understanding is a very relative term.  It may be extraordinary in terms of people who do not deal in the subject at all, high in relation to the knowledge level of the people with whom one is in ordinary contact and it may be very low in relation to people deeply involved in the subject.  It may also be quite negligible in terms of truth and ultimate reality.  With this in mind, I am going to take an opportunity to explain my own use/misuse of the epithet “intermedia“, and change it.  For several years I have been plagued by articles and statements in Haworthiad (and elsewhere), which are not strictly true.  In fact this distress goes back to correspondence with, and publications by, Col. C.L. Scott starting in 1965.  So when Dr Urs Eggli recently kindly stated to me his approach as follows:-

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Volume 3, Chapter 1:- Haworthia mirabilis, and the interface with Haworthia maraisii

The problems of species classification of Haworthia should now be well known to all enthusiasts of this interesting genus.  I have proposed and maintained, with cosmetic changes, a nomenclatural system for it since 1975.  It is a system with which I have managed an extensive collection and herbarium record, and I know it works within the limitations imposed by the evident fractal nature of “species” and their variability.  In this paper I would like to expose these limitations with respect to the concept of two species viz. Haworthia mirabilis, and Haworthia maraisii, where there may be only one. (In the original hardcopy publication of this article, the illustrations are all captioned H. maraisii when it would have been sensible to have used H. mirabilis).

In most discussions concerning the classification of Haworthia, participants have suggested that there are too many species and that some of them should be “lumped”.  On the other hand, there have been several writers who, as prospective taxonomists and experts on the group, continue to expand the range of entities at the formal rank of species and varieties despite all the evidence and indications that this could be an endless path leading nowhere.  My own inclinations have been to minimize the number of species and to use varietal rank in two ways as a communication medium.  One is that I have tended to reject varieties of older authors which I did not think had a strong enough geographical base, but also recognizing that there is nevertheless some information inherent in such names.  Often I felt these varieties simply expressed the variability in a way that was insignificant with respect to the species as a whole.  Two, is that I have described some new varieties to provide names for morphological variation that I consider is new and previously unrecognized, accepting that these names should perhaps not be immortalized either.  Thus my proviso has been that these new varietal names should not be taken too seriously.  As far as the number of species is concerned, I know full well that there could be fewer species.  I get caught up in the problem of identifying a “species” in a strict botanical definition of the word, as opposed to the need for “names” as a way of simple communication about the plants in the amateur fraternity.  Because of the problem of similarity and continuity, the elimination of names becomes similar to that of falling dominoes and the question then arises of “where does it end?”  My classification should not be confused with a system of names intended for horticulture or for trade.  But neither do I think such a system should adulterate a formal botanical one.

Therefore, underpinning this presentation is a definition of a species as dynamic systems of living organisms morphologically, genetically and even behaviorally, continuous in space and time.

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Volume 3, Chapter 13:- Haworthia IS confusing.

In a very interesting book by Stephen Gould entitled “Rock of Ages”, in which he propounds his principle of NOMA – non-overlapping magisteria.  This states that science and religion should not be confused nor mixed.

So this is not a confession of confusion – you do not confess to what is obvious.  It is an admission, and an admission can be construed as an apology.  But, as a rhetorical question, how can one apologize and expect forgiveness when one continues to walk the errant path?

I started to write about Haworthia to dispel confusion, and yet more than 40 years on, this confusion has not become any less.  The conclusion I have come to (and I wish it was a closure) is that the prime source of confusion is simply the human condition.  In mystic philosophy one can read… “Born in ignorance, we live in ignorance and we die in ignorance”.

I think that my interest in Haworthia stems from my conscious effort to dispel this primal confusion and find some of the order in my view of creation.  The classification of plants suggested just one small piece of my world which was available to me, and Haworthia as one group which no one else could explain to me.  What have I now learned and what contribution does this make to dispel confusion?

My courage to now say something more directly arises from a recent request by SANBI to write a synopsis of Haworthia for an E. Cape Flora.  I feel that I have done that fairly successfully.  The problem is now to produce a similar product for the SW Cape and this is considerably more difficult.

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Volume 3, Chapter 14:- A population of Haworthia heidelbergensis.

Since the publication of Haworthia Revisited (Umdaus 1999) I have written Haworthia Update Vol.1 (Umdaus 2002), and Haworthia Update Vol.2 is now in press.  It has some 700 pictures and several maps and focuses largely on the vexing question of how we classify and name the plants in the social environment we have created.

In one chapter I demonstrate how difficult it is to distinguish H. mirabilis and H. maraisii and admit that I can no longer see that distinction.  In this article I want to illustrate a population which shows that my problem is not limited to those two names.  This is about a population on the farm Klippoort that is at the extreme southeast of the Worcester/Robertson Karoo.  It is south of the Riviersonderend River just before the confluence with the bigger Breede River.  The Riviersonderend runs south of the range of mountains which effectively forms the northern boundary to the distribution of H. mirabilis.  East of Stormsvlei, the river cuts through the tail of the mountain range and turns northeast to link up with the Breede River.  The confluence lies just south of the Bonnievale/Drew/Mardouw area which is populated by a dense array of variants of H. maraisii and H. heidelbergensis that cannot confidently be regarded as two different species either.

I have given my record a new number MBB7513, because I do not think I ever made a formal record.  I am not even certain when I first saw the plants there at Klipfontein but I do know that I was again there in 1996.   I was familiar with plants in the nearby area which I had no doubt were H. maraisii and remembered the Klippoort plants as small with rather erect incurving leaves.  In October 2005 Kobus Venter, my wife Daphne and I were in the area and saw a Drosanthemum which I knew was important to Dr H. Hartmann.  To show her these plants in February 2006 I had to get permission from a new landowner and this led to a curious exchange with the original owners (Mr and Mrs Urschel) who had retained the main part of Klipfontein.  To demonstrate the significance of the area and to fuel her interest, I thought I would show Mrs Urschel H. maraisii on the part of the farm they had retained.

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Volume 4, Chapter 7:- The brutality of the reality of Haworthia.

My experience is that Latin names definitely mean different things to different people.  I submitted this manuscript as a draft to various people and the response varied from one which was nil, to some sort of general accord.  I am, however, no longer confident that botanists either do or will agree with my contention is that the real essence of Latin names should, in addition to their many other usages, be in the relation of plants to their origins, relationships, behavior and imagined future.   A classification can only have the authority that experience and knowledge permit, and be really evaluated and understood by persons with the same sort of evidence before them.  In coming to closure I have been exploring some more, and with my wife Daphne, made two finds which further convince me that we have to come to a classification by agreement.  However, the requirement is that species are seen to be highly complex systems with none of the rigidity and inflexibility that nomenclatural rules imply, nor any of the egocentric authoritarianism that a history, of which I have been a part, suggests.

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Volume 5, Chapter 3:- Haworthia Deglamorized. A Recapitulation.

Steven Hammer, in his inimitable style, put a very fresh face on Haworthia in CSJl 80:140 (2008).  He drew attention to the wonder of the plants in cultivation for the collector, contrasted to a reality of unglamorous scruffiness in the field as per the lens and pen of Bayer.  It has fallen to my lot as a very unwilling taxonomist to reduce the fascination these plants have for me, and for so many others, to the mundane vortex of labels, their proliferation and continual amendment.  The fact is whether on a label or on the tongue, a name is a part of any language we use to talk to each other; but we are not learning anything from a well-documented history and in Haworthia seem to remain lost in a maze.

The unhappy truth for Haworthia is that by the time von Poellnitz in Germany, G.G.Smith in South Africa, F. Resende in Portugal, A.J.A. Uitewaal in Holland,  W.Triebner in Namibia, J.W.Dodson and J.R.Brown in USA had either left or abandoned the scene, there were any number of names that meant very little more than the Latin they were written in.  J.R. Brown presented a talk, A brief review of the Genus Haworthia,  to the Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society that was published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal of America 29:125-135 (1957).  He noted the number of species and varietal names at 160 and 370 (!) respectively, arranged in 20 sections.

While J.R. Brown was winding down (his last note on Haworthia was published in 1970), I was busy trying to make sense of a two large files that seemed to form the body of a manuscript by G.G.Smith for which Mrs. M. Courtenay-Latimer had drafted a title… “A monograph of the genus Haworthia.”  This manuscript comprised a collection of all current species descriptions arranged in the purported twenty sections of Berger and accompanied by many illustrations from the original publications, as well as by many of Smith’s own photographs and those of H.G.Fourcade.  We know that Smith retired in a huff, but was there really good reason for his exit?

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Volume 6, Chapter 11:- North and Northwest of the Potberg

In an earlier article I described how Haworthia floribunda (at B on map) transmutes eastwards to H. variegata (at A on map) between the localities Klipfontein and Kleinberg, which are north of the Potberg Mountain. This is despite the fact that they both occur in close proximity at the northwestern end of the mountain. Difficulties now arise in the immediate vicinity to the west (at point W) and this extends northwestwards (to points C and D on the map).  While we can confidently ascribe names to floribunda and variegata at those particular sites, the plants to the west and northwest are confounding.  They fall into a no-man’s-land of these two species with H. mirabilis, H. maraisii, H. heidelbergensis and even H. mutica thrown in.

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