Haworthia Revisited – 36. Haworthia truncata

36. Haworthia truncata Schonland, Trans.R.Soc.S.Afr. 1:391(1910).  V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 27:136(1930).  ibid. 41:214(1937).  Hutchinson, Cact.Succ.J(U.S.) 23:99(1951).  Scott, Natn.Cact.Succ.J 29:36(1967).  Bayer :134(1976).  Bayer :57(1982).  Scott :138(1985).  Marx, Aloe 33:18(1996).  Type: Cape Colony, near Oudtshoorn, Miss G. Britten (K):  H. truncata fa tenuis V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 44:239(1938).  H. truncata var. tenuis (V.Poelln.) Bayer, Haworthia Handbook: 161(1976).  Scott :138(1985).  Type: Cape, Oudtshoorn area.  Not preserved.   H. truncata fa crassa V.Poelln. loc. cit.  Type: Cape, Oudtshoorn area.  Not preserved.  Lectotype (B&M) icon, Des. Pl. Life 19: 79(1947): H. truncata fa normalis V. Poelln. ibid.  Type: Cape, Oudtshoorn area.  Not preserved.

truncata: ending abruptly and square.

Rosette stemless, slowly proliferous, distichous.  Leaves 10-12, from 12mm to 40mm wide, 3mm to 10mm thick, scabrid with minute tubercles, end-area abruptly truncate, sub-pellucid.  Inflorescence simple, to 200mm.  Flowers white with brownish veins.

1982 – Like H. maughanii, the leaves are very abruptly truncated, but they are arranged distichously.  This unusual leaf form and arrangement has earned the species the colloquial name ‘perdetande’, meaning ‘horses teeth’.  H. truncata is quite widespread although there are many indications of gross over collecting.  It occurs from west of Oudtshoorn near De Rust, to just southwest of Calitzdorp.  Although reasonably variable it has been observed that the fa tenuis does not necessarily retain its small size when grown in cultivation and recognition of such variety no longer seems necessary.  H. truncata is easy to grow and propagates from leaf and from root ‑ in both cases it appears necessary for there to be some stem tissue as a source of leaf primordia.

1999 – The Japanese have exploited the range of variation in this species and have some extraordinary cultivars which seem to make the recognition of varieties really superfluous.  The fact that crossing H. truncata and H. maughanii seems to produce intermediates and plants equivalent to both parents, suggests that the difference of distichous to multifarious, is a very simple genetic one.  Marx (1996) has reported on the two elements growing together in a polyglot of intermediary forms, thereby confirming a view that they are really conspecific.  This requires repetition of a comment on hybridisation.  It is really irrational to speak of hybrids in the way that suggests the parents have come from different origins and are now in cross-pollination contact.  Here we have two elements which must have sprung from a common source and never been isolated.  What that source is may be a mystery, and the most probable in terms of geographic location and morphology is perhaps H. bayeri.  A form has also been collected in the same general area that the var. tenuis occurs,  which has surface hairs much like H. cooperi var. venusta from the Eastern Cape.

a.var. truncata
Distributed from southwest of Calitzdorp to the De Rust area east of Oudtshoorn.  This variety has the capacity to re-grow from roots although it is not certain if stem tissue is required to achieve this.

Distribution: 3321(Ladismith): Blackburn Valley, Calitzdorp(‑DA), W.F.Barker 5340 (NBG); SW. Calitzdorp (-DA), Smith 2069 (NBG); W. Calitzdorp (-DA), Venter 13 (NBG).  3322(Oudtshoorn): Schoemanshoek (-AC), Oddie in NBG82/20 (BOL); Volmoed (-CA), Venter 7 (NBG), Heunis 9 (NBG); Oudtshoorn graveyard (-CA), Heunis 7 (NBG); DeRust to Kamanassie (-CB), Smith 6915 (NBG); Vanwykskraal (-CB), Fourcade 213 (NBG), Smith 2068, 4007, 5621 (NBG), Venter 20 (NBG);

Inadequately located: Cape, Marloth 12732 (PRE); Calitzdorp, Blackburn (BOL); Oudtshoorn, Taylor (BOL); ex hort Whitehill, NBG68235, Malherbe in NBG422/40.


b.var. maughanii (V.Poelln.) Fearn, Natn.Cact.Succ.J 21:28(1966).  H. maughanii V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 31:85(1932).  ibid. 41:205(1937).  ibid. 44:239(1938).  Bayer :134(1976).  Bayer :47(1982).  Scott :139(1985).  Type: Cape, near Calitzdorp, H. Maughan-Brown.  Not preserved.  Neotype (B&M): CAPE‑3321(Ladismith): Calitzdorp, Malherbe in NBG307/40 (BOL).

maughanii: for H. Maughan‑Brown.

Rosette multifarious.  Leaves round in cross-section.

1982 – There are two species with abruptly truncated leaves, H. maughanii and H. truncata.  In the former species the leaves are multifarious whereas in H. truncata they remain distichous.  Artificial cross‑pollination has yielded hybrids with shared parental characters.  Geographically H. maughanii occupies a very distinctive small habitat within the western limits of the distribution of H. truncata.  The relationship of the two species is thus a little unclear and there may be little reason for maintaining two species.  Contrary to a suggestion by Hutchinson (1951), the relationship with H. retusa must be distant.  The truncation of the leaves is apparent in the earliest leaves and is not brought about by outward flexure of the leaf tips as occurs in H. retusa.

1999 – This element is also remarkably variable and the truncated end-area may be translucent, opaque and variously veined as in the typical variety.  The end-area margins may be scabrous and variously crispate or undulate.  Also the number, shape, and size of the leaves varies enormously and parallels easily the same range that motivated von Poellnitz to recognize three major forms in H. truncata.

Distribution: 3321(Ladismith): S. Calitzdorp (-DA), Fourcade 169 (NBG), Smith 2070, 6094, 6094a (NBG); Calitzdorp (‑DA), Mrs Taute in NBG 68778.

Inadequately located: Calitzdorp, Blackburn (BOL), Ross-Frames (BOL), Taylor (BOL), Oddie in NBG1559/32 (BOL); ex hort, Whitehill (NBG),Malherbe in NBG307/40; Cape, Marloth 12732 (PRE).