Haworthia Revisited – 60. Haworthia minima

60. Haworthia minima (Ait.) Haw., Syn.Pl.Succ. :92(1812).  Bayer, Cact.Succ.J(U.S.) 43:157(1971).  Bayer :135(1976).  Bayer :81(1982).  Scott :17(1985).  A. margaritifera var. minima (L.) Ait., Hort.Kew. 1:468(1789).  Willd., Spec.Plant. :189(1799).  Haw., Trans.Linn.Soc. :8(1804).  A. margaritifera var. minor (L.) Lam., Encycl. :88(1783).  A. margaritifera (L.) Burm.(f), Prod.Fl.Cap. :10(1768).  A. pumila var. margaritifera beta L., Spec.Pl. :322(1753).  H. granata (Willd.) Haw. Suppl.Pl.Succ. :57(1819).  Haw., Revis. :203(1821).  Apicra granata Willd. Berl.Mag. :269(1811).  A. granata (Willd.) Roem. et Schultes, Syst.Veg. 7:649(1829).  A. granata (Willd.) Salm Dyck, Monogr. 6:t6(1836).  H. margaritifera var. granata (Willd.) Baker, JLinn.Soc.Bot. 43:205(1880).  A. erecta var. laetivirens Salm Dyck, Hort.Dyck. :12((1824).  Type: icon. 20:t16,f18, Dill. Hort.Elth. (1732):  Haworthia minor (Haw.) Duv., Hort.Alenc. :7(1809).  Haw. Syn.Pl.Succ. :92(1812).  Haw. Suppl.Pl.Succ. :53(1819).  A. margaritifera var minor (L.) Ait., Hort.Kew. :468(1789).  Haw., Trans.Linn.Soc. 7:11(1804).  Ker-G., Bot.Mag. :t815(1805).  A. pumila var margaritifera gamma L., Spec.Pl. :322(1753).  A. erecta Salm Dyck, 6:t7(1836)  Type: icon. 20:t16,f17, Dill. Hort.Elth. (1732):  H. margaritifera Haw., Suppl.Pl.Succ. :55(1819).  H. major (Ait.) Duval, Hort.Alenc. :7(1809).  Aloe margaritifera var. major Ait., Hort.Kew. :468(1789).  Haw., Trans.Linn.Soc. :8(1804).  Type: icon. 1:t21, Bradley, Hist.Succ.Pl. 3(1725):  H. erecta Haw. Suppl.Pl.Succ. :56(1819).  Haw., Revis. :55(1821).  H. margaritifera var. erecta (Haw.) Baker, JLinn.Soc.Bot.18:205(1880).  A. erecta (Haw.) Roem. et Schultes :649(1829).  non A. erecta Salm Dyck 6:t7(1836).  A. margaritifera var media DC. Pl.Gr. :57(1799).  A. pumila var. margaritifera gamma L., Spec.Pl. :322(1753).  Type: icon, 21:t11, Comm. Prael.Bot. (1701):  H. brevis Haw., Suppl.Pl.Succ. :57(1819).  A. brevis Roem. et Schultes, Syst.Veg. 7:649(1829).  A. margaritifera var. minor Ker‑G., Bot.Mag. :t.1360(1811).  Type: icon, :t1360, Ker-G., Bot.Mag.:  H. margaritifera var. corallina Baker, JLinn.Soc.Bot. 43:201(1880).  Type: Ex hort. Peacock.  Not preserved:  H. mutabilis V.Poelln., Feddes Repert.Spec.Nov. 44:132(1938).  Type: Cape, Bredasdorp, Payne 23 in Triebn.1110.  Not preserved.

minima: small.

Rosette stemless, slowly proliferous, to 150mm tall.  Leaves to 130 X 15mm, nearly as thick as wide, attenuate, spreading, lanceolate-deltoid, surfaces scabrid with raised flattened non-confluent tubercles, colour bluish-green.  Inflorescence sparsely branched, lax.  Flowers tepals fused, tube straight, lobes abbreviated, veins pinkish.

1982 – H. minima is a small (up to 120mm high), clump forming, blue‑green species, with white tubercles and pink‑tipped florets.  It occurs in Coastal Renosterbos from Bredasdorp eastwards to at least the Gouritz River, and inland to Swellendam and Heidelberg.  Very tuberculate forms are reported in the coastal limestones and a nearly glabrous single plant from Bredasdorp was named as H. mutabilis V.Poelln.  There is no indication of any hybridisation or intergradation with either H. pumila in the west or H. kingiana in the east.  The relationship with H. poellnitziana requires detailed examination.  H. minima hybridises with H. marginata at Heidelberg (Cape).

1999 – The only interesting development concerning this species is the collection from north of the Langeberg Mountains.  It has been found at Brandrivier to the east, and still further east, northeast of Herbertsdale.  H. poellnitziana is now included as a variety of this more generally distributed species simply in recognition of popular opinion.  H. minima does develop long slender leaves, but the fact remains that there seems to be a difference in flower colour, while the distribution is also disjunct.  As is unfortunately usually the case, no herbarium specimens are provided to substantiate opinions.  The synonymy has been substantially altered follow the views expressed concerning the correct naming of H. maxima (Haw.) Duv.  My opinion has been that if the iconotypes had been properly known and understood, the nomenclature of the two species involved would have been much simpler.  H. maxima would have been seen to be the correct name for the “large pearled aloe”, and H. margaritifera for the “lesser pearled aloe”.  The old synonymy follows the types quite closely and unfortunately those who have attempted to pronounce on the nomenclature seem to have been under the impression that the iconotypes were mostly the larger of the species.  The converse is true.


a. var. minima

Distribution: 3321(Ladismith): Brandrivier (-CC), Laidler 707 (NBG); Perdekop, Bonniedale (-DD), Matthews 1095 (NBG).  3419(Caledon): Wiesdrift (-DB), Smith 5475 (NBG); Voelvlei (-DB), Dymond (BOL); Mierkraal (-DB), Fourcade 199 (NBG)7.  3420(Bredasdorp): Swellendam (-AA), Rotheno in PRE 39425; Bontebok Park (-AB), Bayer & Fourie 4432 (NBG); NE. Bredasdorp (-AC), Smith 5472 (NBG); Skeiding (-BB), Smith 7220 (NBG); Heidelberg (-BB), Fouche 45 (PRE), Smith 5508, 6569, 7146 (NBG); Bassonskraal (-BC), Burgers 1333 (NBG); Koenskraal (-BC), Venter 4 (NBG); Infanta (-BC), Ross-Frames (BOL); Malgas (-BC), Esterhuysen 5224 (BOL); N. Infanta (-BD), Smith 5474 (NBG); Bontebok Park (-CA), Barker 7232 (NBG); De Mond (-CA), Smith 7352 (NBG); Struisbaai (-CC), Esterhuysen (BOL).  3421(Riversdale): SW. Riversdale (-AA), Smith 5469 (NBG); Swartheuwel (-AA), Smith 7190 (NBG); Kruisrivier (-AB), Smith 7319 (NBG); About 3km SW. town (-AB), Dekenah 3 (PRE); E. Riversdale (-AB), Smith 5375, 5486, 5757, 6087 (NBG); Vermaaklikheid (-AC), Smith 6108 (NBG); Stilbaai (‑AD), Dekenah 97 (NBG), Smith 5504, 5283 (NBG); E. Albertinia (-BA), van Niekerk 333 (NBG); E. Gouritz Bridge (-BB), Smith 3960, 7354 (NBG); N. Gouritzmond (-BD), Smith 6101, 7518 (NBG).  3422(Mossel Bay): Hartenbos (-AA), Schoeman (NBG).

Inadequately located: Ex hort., Steyn in PRE 8797; Riversdale, Ferguson (BOL), Muir in NBG616/23 (BOL); Kafferkuilsrivier, Bolus (BOL); Bredasdorp, James (BOL). .


b. var. poellnitziana (Uitew.) Bayer  Comb.nov.  H. poellnitziana Uitew., Cact.Vetpl. 5:137(1939).  Bayer :146(1976).  Bayer :81(1982).  Type: Cape, Drew, Meiring.  (AMD).

poellnitziana: in honour of Dr. K. von Poellnitz.

1982 – H. poellnitziana occurs on the western extremity of the range for H. pumila, and H. minima does not occur nearer than 30km to the southeast.  H. poellnitziana has slender long leaves up to 180mm long.  They are grey‑green in colour and less blue than in H. minima, while in H. pumila the leaves are dark brownish‑green.  The flower lobes are yellowish in colour.  It is in a winter rainfall area, and grows in fynbos vegetation on old river gravels.”

Distribution: 3320(Montagu): West of Drew, Swellendam (‑CC), Smith 3947 (NBG), Fourcade 185 (NBG), Bayer 154 (NBG); Robertson, van der Merwe 225 (BOL).



Volume 5, Chapter 7:- Haworthia minima

There is not much to write about this less glamorous of plants.  It is one of the Robustipedunculares.  It is very widely distributed and even occurs north of the Langeberg Mountains in the Little Karoo – as does its sister species H. pumila.  The pictures cover a huge range of variants from DeMond in the southwestern area to Riversdale.  I found them all fascinating.  Mostly so perhaps the very few large globose plants we saw at Kleinberg near Malgas (Diepkloof).  But the plants at Koppies are really interesting because they were overlooked for so long.  Koppies is the second known home of H. serrata (now H. rossouwii) and we came to know it also as a refuge for a small population of H. marginata.  It was while we were investigating this that Hennie van Deventer casually pointed to plants of H. attenuata var caespitosa in his garden and said they were also on the farm.   Because of our surprise and of course doubt, he took us to show the plants that he said he had not looked at nor thought of for 20 years – and there they were.  A very small population of large dark coloured plants.

Also interesting were the very small solitary plants on the farm Sandfontein in the Slang River Valley.  At Klipheuwel marginal to the coastal calcretes we also came across the species.  Initially we saw only two plants while searching for ‘retusa-like’ plants.  Failing to find anything else in a very severly grazed field we thought we would return to commiserate with the few H. minima we saw  and enjoy the ambience we always feel in the presence of Haworthia.  One can barely explain how cryptic these plants are and how easily they avoid detection.  We found another 40 plants in the same area abut 10m diameter where we had found but two a short while earlier.

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Volume 5, Chapter 13:- A February 2009 Miscellany


7807 H.minima.  Swartrug, SE Heidelberg. 002

This chapter is based on recent field exploration and embroiders around many aspects of Haworthia species discussed in earlier chapters.  What should be striking is that new populations follow the very predictable geographic pattern that all my earlier exploration has exposed and in my estimation confirm in every way what I consider a sound and satisfactory taxonomic solution and help explain its limitations.

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Volume 7, Chapter 1:- Haworthia retusa ‘nigra’ – Another grand finale.

I wonder.  I have written so many words purporting to be my last that my credibility here too must be under stress.  Two very recent articles of mine in Alsterworthia deal essentially with that issue, although they also cover the discovery of Haworthia mutica (Buffeljags) (= H. groenewaldii Breuer).  They do not cover my subsequent thoughts on actually reading the description of this new “species” by Breuer, Marx and Groenewald.  I hope that the present manuscript will explain why I reject this as a Latin binomial although anyone who is in the least familiar with my writing should already know.  Spurred on by that discovery, I instigated a search in another area of the Buffeljags valley adjoining the Bontebok Park accompanied by Jannie Groenewald who informed me of what he had found in still another area I had long wanted to explore.  So I instigated another search there too and again with Jannie.  A discussion of these new finds is submitted to Cactus and Succulent Journal where I trust it will be published.  The essence is already in Alsterworthia and this article is written to widen the readership, submit more pictures and maintain continuity with the 6 volumes of Haworthia Update that Harry Mays has been so conscientiously and determinedly publishing.  This is all writing that may not otherwise have seen the light of day.  I am personally extremely grateful for that as I have had a mania since writing my revision Haworthia Revisited and Update Vol. 1 (both Umdaus), to set the record straight and explore all the unknowns, or at least some of them.

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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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New finds in Haworthia.

Previously published Cact. Succ. J. (Los Angeles) 84(1): 41-50

Map - east of Swellendam


Map Legend – east of Swellendam.
1. JDV84/75 Haworthia retusa ‘turgida’.
2. MBB6666 H. retusa ‘nigra’↔ H. mirabilis.
3. MBB7898 H. retusa ‘nigra’.
4. MBB7899 H. retusa ‘nigra’.
5. MBB7897 H. retusa ‘nigra’.
6. MBB7896 H. retusa ‘nigra’.
7. MBB7871 H. mirabilis.
8. MBB7823 H. mirabilis.
9. MBB7909 H. mirabilis
10. MBB7805 H. mirabilis.
11. MBB7801 H. mutica ‘groenewaldii’.
12. MBB7886-7889 H. mutica ‘groenewaldii’, H. mirabilis, H. minima, H. marginata.
13. MBB7722 H. floribunda ‘major’

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Haworthia minima and pumila flowers

6645.1b H. pumila

This flower (H. pumila) is apparently persistently regarded by botanists as actinomorphic (star-shaped, radially symmetrical) – as though zygomorphy (yoke shaped, bilateral, assymetrical) in the aloids is an uncommon condition!

Radial symmetry means the flower can be divided into 3 or more identical sectors which are related to each other by rotation about the centre of the flower. Typically, each sector might contain one tepal or one petal and one sepal and so on. It may or may not be possible to divide the flower into symmetrical halves by the same number of longitudinal planes passing through the axis. Zygomorthic flowers can be divided by only a single plane into two mirror-image halves, much like a yoke or a person’s face.

If you see the way the inner upper petal overlaps BOTH the two lower inner petals, you recognise that there can not be actinomorphy in aloid flowers.



Haworthia pumila
6645.1a H. pumila 6645.1b H. pumila H. pumila sn. 1a H. pumila sn. 1b H. pumila sn. 2a H. pumila sn. 2b H. pumila sn. 3a H. pumila sn. 3b




Haworthia minima
7519.1a H. min ima 7519.1b H. min ima H. minima sn1 1a H. minima sn1 1b H. minima sn1 2a H. minima sn1 2b H. minima sn2 1.a H. minima sn2 2a H. minima sn2 2b H. minima, Heuningrug 1a H. minima, Heuningrug 1b H. minima, Heuningrug 2a H. minima, Heuningrug 2b H. minima, Heuningrug 3a H. minima, Heuningrug 3b H. minima sn2 1.b

The Haworthia species of the Bontebok National Park

M. B. Bayer (MSc), Kleinbegin Farm, Kuilsriver, South Africa
Mrs Carly Cowell (MSc), Regional Ecologist, Cape Research Centre, Conservation Services, South African National Parks, Cape Town, South Africa.

Objective:  The significance of the Park occurrences.
The occurrence of members of three aloid “genera” (the three sub-genera of the genus Haworthia could indeed be genera) and the absence of any other member of the Aloids (bar the ubiquitous Aloe ferox) must surely be indicative of the driving forces that determine the flora of the Park.  This also must surely help establish the significance of the park as a conservancy of considerable merit.  The complex interaction of the species enhances even that.  The purpose of this report is to examine more closely the variation and nature of a small segment of the Park flora, and demonstrate how much more can be done.     

Note: This report has several constraints.  Firstly is the situation in which there is no formal general definition and hence understanding of what a plant species is.  Secondly there is the generally understood view that there is an evolutionary process at work by which organisms evolve from a common distant origin by genetic mutation and adaptation.  Thirdly there are serious flaws in the classification of the Aloid genera.  Several essays dealing with these issues by DNA sequencing are weak because they rest on those flaws and consequently do not address some serious questions of relationships that the results pose.  Fourthly of course is the reality that the knowledge or intellectual capacity to overcome these deficiencies may be absent.  Thus the report is written in the context of all the publications as the original genus revision (Haworthia Revisited, Bayer; Umdaus, 1999) and others available on the internet (HaworthiaUpdates.org).

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