Haworthia Revisited – 37. Haworthia turgida

37. Haworthia turgida Haw., Suppl.Pl.Succ. :52(1819).  Salm-Dyck, Monogr. 9:t5(1837).  Bayer :163(1976).  Bayer :57(1982).  H. retusa sensu Scott :113(1985).  Type: Cape, ex hort Kew.  Not preserved.  Neotype (B&M): icon, Bowie (K):  H. laetivirens Haw., Suppl.Pl.Succ. :53(1819).  Salm-Dyck, Monogr. 10:t3(1837).  Type: Cape.  Not preserved.  Neotype (designated here): icon t.3, Salm-Dyck:  H. caespitosa V.Poelln., Cactus J 5:33(1936).  V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 43:103(1938).  Type: Cape, near McGregor, G.J. Payne in Triebn. 586.  Not preserved. Lectotype (B&M): icon (B):  H. caespitosa fa subplana V.Poelln. ibid. 44:232(1938).  Type: Cape, Uniondale, G. Helm in Triebn. 874.  Not preserved:  H. caespitosa fa subproliferans V.Poelln. ibid.  Type: Cape, Calvinia.  Not preserved.

turgida: swollen.

Rosette partially stemless, proliferous, 5-10cm φ.  Leaves 20-40, turgid often as thick as broad, recurved or slightly retused, generally mottled, yellow-green to pink in sun, margins and keel lightly spined.  Inflorescence simple, 15-20cm.  Flowers slender, brownish-white with darker venation.

1982 – H. turgida is the most widely distributed of the Southwestern Cape species and also the most variable.  It occurs in both the higher mountains in sandstone, and also on the lower lying shales.  It is very subject to ecotypic variation and the best evidence of this is north of Bredasdorp eastward apparently through the coastal limestones, northward to Swellendam where there is possibly intergradation with H. reticulata, then eastwards again in the Langeberg Mountains and down all the main river valleys including the lower Breede River valley.  The eastern limit is near Little Brak.  The northern limit is of course the Langeberg mountain range and it is unlikely that H. turgida occurs inland along the Gouritz river ‑ despite an unconfirmed report of a collection northwest of Calitzdorp.  Some of Von Poellnitz’s forms and varieties were recorded from as far afield as Calvinia and Steytlerville.  Although the possibility of such collections cannot be completely ruled out, it is unlikely that these could have been relatives of H. turgida.  There are forms in the Potberg mountains as well as in the Riviersonderend mountains which may intergrade with other local species (e.g. at Greyton with H. mirabilis) in the same way that H. turgida is related to H. retusa in the Heidelberg and Riversdale areas, or at Albertinia.  It is a fascinating problem as it is obvious that affinities at one locality may not be the same at another.  Thus it is quite conceivable that H. turgida may have an affinity with H. magnifica var. notabilis at Robertson, with H. maculata in the Hex River valley and with H. archeri through the inland mountains.  H. turgida is generally a small species up to about 30mm diameter in the sandstones, however, in shales it may grow up to 80mm diameter.  It is always very proliferous and grows on steep rocky slopes as opposed to H. retusa which is less proliferous and on level areas.  H. turgida is also not withdrawn into the ground.  This contrast of proliferation and withdrawal into the soil as opposed to clump formation also occurs in the related species H. reticulata and H. herbacea, and is evident in less strongly related species such as H. cooperi and H. cymbiformis.

1999 – The early illustrations by Salm-Dyck hardly allow room for doubt about this species, and yet the localities that von Poellnitz cites are grossly off the mark for the species and varieties which he described and cited.  The problem that Col Scott had with this species and with H. retusa should also be explained here.  It arises out of a misconception about leaf tiers and the statement ‘quinquefarious’ in the early literature.  This term refers to vertical leaf tiers and it is apparent from a manuscript in the Grahamstown (Albany) Museum (and also from the revision in Aloe 11, 1973) that Scott concluded this to mean horizontal leaf layers.  Also Scott’s treatment, where he applies the name H. retusa to this element, as well as to a number of von Poellnitz’ species and varieties H. laetivirens, is baffling.  Breuer and Metzing have nominated a neotype which is not a good representation of the typical variety from the sandstones of the Langeberg mountains.

Of the southern Cape species, H. turgida is unquestionably the main role player.  It occurs in recognisable form from Bredasdorp to east of Mossel Bay.  It forms a continuum with H. reticulata and H. herbacea which are in the Worcester/Robertson area, and ranges from the Langeberg high peaks to the valleys running seaward and southward.  It is unfortunate that apart from Smith’s names, few others have any geographical credibility.  The affinities suggested in the 1982 discussion are in retrospect improbable.  If there is a further association which needs exploration, it may be the link with the inland species through the high mountain forms.  It does not seem sound to speculate on the chronological origins of the elements at altitude as opposed to those at lower levels.


a.var. turgida
The typical variety based on Salm-Dyck’s renditions, rather than on the Kew illustration cited by Scott, which I have not seen, is considered to be the one in the Tradouw Pass east of Swellendam.  The leaves are almost recurved, highly mottled and moderately spined.  The higher mountain forms in the sandstones are generally smaller and note has to be taken of similarities between these smaller softer elements of apparently disparate species e.g. H. mirabilis var. consanguinea, H. maculata, and H. vlokii, all at high altitude in sandstones.  At Heidelberg H. turgida expresses its full potential in terms of ecotypic variation where it passes from sandstones, to shales and on to the clays of the Witteberg series.  It also appears to hybridise with both H. heidelbergensis and with H. floribunda in that area.

Distribution: 3320(Montagu): Tradouw Pass (-BC), Read (BOL), Smith 3247, 5160, 6784, 7517 (NBG); S. Barrydale (-DC), Smith 3902 (NBG).  3321(Ladismtih): 16km N. Riversdale (-CC), Smith 7197 (NBG); NE. Riversdale (-CC), Smith 5385 (NBG).  3420(Bredasdorp): Buffeljachts (-BA), Smith 4941 (NBG); Heidelberg (-BB), Smith 5044 (NBG), Kramer in NBG841/60; N. Heidelberg (-BB), Smith 6203 (NBG); Bayer in KG240/72, in KG 241/72 (NBG); Blackdown (-BB), Smith 5546 (NBG).  3421(Riversdale): Glen (-AB), Muir 3006 (BOL); Klein Kruisriver (-AB), Smith 6075, 6080 (NBG).

Inadequately located: ex hort. Whitehill, NBG68371, NBG68056, ex hort. Ross-Frames, NBG81/44, NBG2937/32, NBG68057, NBG1827/28, Smith 3240, 3429), 3498, 3904, 3950 (NBG); Swellendam, Ross-Frames (BOL); Riversdale, Muir in NBG1827/28 (BOL); Albertinia, Muir 1300 (BOL).


b.var. longebracteata (Smith) Bayer comb.nov.  H. longebracteata Smith, JS.Afr.Bot. 11:75(1945).  Scott :127(1985).  Type: CAPE-3421(Riversdale): near Stilbaai, Dekenah 18 in Smith 5378 (NBG).

longebracteata: long bracts.

This variety is fairly large and represents the lower-lying larger forms which occur from Bredasdorp across to the Kafferkuils River east of Riversdale.  The typical form is from the Stilbaai area where the leaves tend to be suberect with a fairly pronounced end-area.  To the west this end-area is less pronounced and both the Bredasdorp and the Swellendam (southwest) forms are reminiscent of the flatter non-retused leaves of H. reticulata.

Distribution: 3420(Bredasdorp): 5km SW. Swellendam (-AB), Bayer 2420 (NBG), van der Merwe in NBG1184/28, Malherbe in NBG204/41; Napky (-AB) Bruyns in KG37/77 (NBG); 20km N. Bredasdorp (-AC), Venter in NBG868/38, Malherbe in NBG470/42, Smith 3949, 5484 (NBG), Bayer in KG34/70 (NBG); Kransriviermond (-BB), Smith 5752 (NBG); Diepkloof, S. Malgas (-BC), Bayer 2533 (PRE); 3km W. Vermaaklikheid (-BD), Kramer 434 (PRE).  3421(Riversdale): Kafferkuils Bridge (-AB), Smith 6795 (NBG), Bayer 4479 (PRE); S. Riversdale (-AB), Smith 7181, 7204 (NBG); Duiwenhoksriver (-AC), Bayer 2672 (NBG); Brakfontein (-AC), Smith 6107 (NBG), Bayer in KG94/71 (NBG); Botterkloof (-AD), Smith 5378 (BOL,PRE); Kransfontein Farm (-AD), Bohnen 7735 (NBG,PRE); Stilbaai (-AD), Fouche 46 (PRE); Dekenah 18 in Smith 5378 (NBG), Smith 2242, 2811, 5382, 6794 (NBG).

Inadequately located: Heidelberg, Ferguson (BOL).


c.suberecta V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 44:134(1938).  Type: Cape, George district, Mrs Helm in Triebn. 844.  Not preserved:  Neotype: CAPE-3422(Mossel Bay): Brandwacht (-AA), Bayer in KG631/69 (NBG):  H. turgida var. subtuberculata V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 44:134(1938).  Type: Cape, Mossel Bay, Lategan.  Not preserved:  H. turgida var. pallidifolia Smith, JS.Afr.Bot. 12:10(1946).  Type: CAPE-3421(Riversdale): Draaihoek, Albertinia, J. Dekenah 146 in Smith 5714 (NBG).

suberecta: leaves almost erect.

Here the variety is extended to include all these more strongly retused, clump-forming populations which extend all the way from Brandwacht, northeast of Mossel Bay, to Albertinia.  This variety is strongly mottled and the leaf ends are slightly truncated and rounded.  Smith based his var pallidifolia on a pale-coloured variant which is actually not very common.  The Gouritz River form is the most truncated and as, in the typical variety, is highly mottled with semi-translucent dots.

Distribution: 3421(Riversdale): Draaihoek, Albertinia (-BA), J. Dekenah 146 in Smith 5714 (NBG), Smith 5045, 5490 (NBG), Bayer 4476 (PRE); Weltevrede (-BA), Smith 5537, 7202, 7203 (NBG), Bayer 4471 (NBG); Wydersriver (-BA), Smith 2890 (NBG); Droogerug (-BA), Muir 3006 (BOL); Nuweberg (-BA), Bohnen 9024 (NBG); E. Valsch River Bridge (-BA), Smith 5714, 6912 (NBG), Bayer 4477 (NBG); Gouritz River (-BB), Fouche 48 (PRE), Smith 3857, 3961 (NBG), Bayer 4478 (NBG).  3422(Mossel Bay): Brandwacht (-AA), Herre in STE6374 (BOL), Bayer in KG631/69 (NBG)

Inadequately located: Mossel Bay, Smith 4952, 5078 (NBG); ex hort Smith 647 (NBG), Naude in NBG1