Haworthia Revisited – 30. Haworthia pygmaea

30. Haworthia pygmaea V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 27:132 (1930).  ibid. 41:208 (1937).  ibid. 43:104 (1938).  ibid., Kakteenkunde 9:104 (1937).  Bayer :148:(1976).  Bayer :51 (1982).  Type: Cape, Great Brak, Mrs van der Bijl.  Not preserved.  Neotype (B&M)): E. Great Brak, Fourcade 4759 (BOL).  H. asperula Haw. p.p. sensu C.L.Scott :119 (1985).

pygmaea: dwarf.

Rosette stemless, slowly proliferous, 6-10cm φ.  Leaves 12-15, retused, round-tipped, surface pellucid with obscure raised tubercles, sometimes intensely papillose.  Inflorescence simple, robust, to 30cm.  Flowers white with greenish veins.

1982 – The name is not very apt as H. pygmaea is not much smaller than any of its near relatives.  In fact it is very much bigger than H. parksiana, with which it grows.  However, in the field some plants only develop 2‑3 leaves and perhaps von Poellnitz received some of these.  The species is characterised by scabrid or obscurely papillate to papillate leaf surfaces, the leaf end-areas are flattish and the leaf tips rounded.  Von Poellnitz ascribed plants from Great Brak to several other species too, and there is a close similarity with some forms of H. emelyae, H. retusa and H. mutica.  Geographical considerations weigh heavily in retaining H. pygmaea as a species separate from H. retusa, as it is apparently confined to the area between Mossel Bay and Great Brak.  H. retusa var. dekenahii occurs east of Albertinia, approaching Mossel Bay, and perhaps could be regarded as intermediate.  H.  turgida changes fairly dramatically as it moves eastward and it occurs very close to H. pygmaea.  Thus these two species may be related in the same way that H. turgida is related to H. retusa.

1999 – The previous discussion is inaccurate in several respects.  The forms of H. emelyae referred to were probably of H. bayeri.  The forms of H. retusa were those tending to H. magnifica.  H. retusa var. dekenahii east of Albertinia is of course actually the var. argenteo-maculosa of H. dekenahii Smith, which in this work is regarded as a variety of H. pygmaea.  The recognition of the relationship between H. retusa and H. turgida negates the possibility of a similar relationship between H. pygmaea and H. turgida.  The form that has received most of the attention is the very shiny papillate one.  It does not occur in any specified area or as a distinctive population and varietal rank is not warranted.  There is a difficulty in distinguishing H. pygmaea from H. mutica in cultivation but the former should be recognisable by the presence of the surface tubercles.  These are however, very much less conspicuous than in H. magnifica var. splendens.


a. var. pygmaea.
Confined to the Great Brak and Mossel Bay area.

Distribution: 3422(Mossel Bay): Great Brak (‑AA), Bayer 2241 (NBG), Morris in PRE 34890, Luckhoff in NBG1871/24 (BOL); Near Great Brak (-AA), Luckhoff 6269 (PRE); E. Great Brak (-AA), Fourcade 4759 (BOL); W. Great Brak (-AA), Smith 2919 (NBG), Bayer 2287 (NBG); Dumbie Dykes (-AA), Bayer 2289 (NBG).


b. var. argenteo-maculosa (Smith) Bayer comb nov.  Bayer, Aloe 34: 6(1997), H. dekenahii var. argenteo-maculosa Smith, J.S.Afr.Bot. 11:74 (1945).  H. retusa forma argenteo-maculosa (Smith) Bayer :98(1976).  Type: CAPE‑3421 (Riversdale): between Gouritz Bridge and Mossel Bay (‑BB), S. Emett in NBG 68037.

argenteo-maculosa: silver spotted.

The locality for this variety could be at one of at least two localities known east of the Gouritz Bridge and the name is also applied to a population just west of Mossel Bay itself.  There is undoubtedly a very strong link with H. magnifica var. splendens which has more conspicuous surface tubercles.  The variety is separated from the typical species by the more conspicuous white flecking in the leaves and also by its relative smoothness.

Distribution: 3421(Riversdale): between Gouritz Bridge and Mossel Bay (‑BB), S. Emett in NBG 68037; A few km E. Gouritz River Bridge (-BB), Smith 3959 (NBG,PRE); Cooper Siding (-BB), Bayer (NBG); Humor (-BB), Bayer (NBG).  3422(Mossel Bay): W. Mossel Bay (-AA), Schoemann (NBG).