If you don’t like Haworthia, then you might as well move on to another day or even to a different website, because enthused by Gerhard Marx on the subject of this genus and with more tips of what to see where, it was inevitable that we followed some more of these leads – well, we were here anyway, so why not!
First we headed to Bakenskraal, to a piece of wasteland along the Olifants River (no, not the same Olifants River that we had seen in Vredendal; there is even a third river with the same name in Limpopo) taking a turning east of the N12 (S2795). I found that we either stumbled across Haworthia at ad hoc stops and might have easily overlooked the plants at the many stops we had made already. At other times, such as today, we were hoping to find specific Haworthia at specific spots and just about every time when we parked the car, I thought ‘I wonder if we made a mistake when we wrote down the coordinates’. Most of the time we would find a small number of plants at a fairly small spot – it seems that many taxa grow in small isolated / disjunct populations. Enough speculation. Here is what we saw:
Again it seems that I can put at least two ticks on my checklist, more if I count the synonyms.
Two days ago, we looked along the N12 for H. picta and found just one plant outside the fence – I was not too impressed. Fortunately we now had another spot for a Haworthia a bit farther along the N12, this one for H. emelyae (S2796). Reading up on Haworthia on the internet, I learned that H. picta and H. emelyae are in fact the same thing, depending on whose naming you follow. Just as well that our list had the alternative name because based on Thursday’s experience, I would have given another picta stop a miss.
As you can see, I was glad that we made this stop – these are gorgeous plants. The plant grew again on a piece of wasteland, this time a narrow strip between the N12 and the railway line that runs along it, but this time, it was fenced off. We had been warned that although the land was not in use, the owner was not sympathetic towards people trespassing on to his land for whatever reason. So we first looked on the wide strip of land on the roadside of the fence, before David crossed the fence and soon reported that he had found the plants growing beneath shrubs. He did not hang about for long and on his return to the ‘safe’ side of the fence, we took it in turns to walk quickly to the spot where he had seen the plants, take pictures and back out to the roadside. It added a sense of adventure to the pictures that we came back with.
The N12 next climbed quite fast up the Outeniqua Mountains, one of the ‘ripples’ that I referred to a few days ago, part of a mountain range that runs parallel with the coast. At the top, the Outeniqua Pass, we pulled over and stopped (S2797) to take pictures of the spectacular views down to the coast – no plants photographed for a change.
We zigzagged down the hill and decided to have lunch in Mossel Bay, almost behaving like normal tourists (S2798) again, no plants were photographed.
Next we drove to the last plant spot planned for the day and again thought that we were in the wrong place or that development had overtaken us and what once had been a nature area was now built up. SatNav pointed us along the N2 motorway and just past the spot where the coordinates were flagged, pointed is into an Engen 1 Stop service station! We decided to keep faith with the SatNav – it had been right more often than not – parked the car and walked over a freshly mown lawn to a path that might be used by others taking a break for walking their dog. After a brief stroll the landscape was more natural and we were beginning to be hopeful. Before too long we found Haworthia growing in small rock bowls. We had to clear away the lush grass that was protecting plants from view – and from the sun (so we covered the plants again after taking our pictures) (S2799).
It seems that for once, authorities agree on the name as I can’t find alternatives. Angie has grown this plant in the UK and I remember a plant with papillate leaf surfaces, the stronger the texture the better. So a fair amount of selection had to be done at the point of purchase to get the ‘best’ plant. I can imagine that a fair amount of selection had already taken place, original in nature to propagate from the ‘best’ material available. The plants here, while still with somewhat scabrid leaf surfaces, were smoother than the plants in Angie’s collection. It seems that as humans we are keen to give precise names for plants found in nature, often debating the merit of one name over another passionately and emotionally and then, through selection for plants that display the best features, end up with a plant with the desired name on the label even though it deviates in appearance from its original ‘wild’ ancestors. We’re strange creatures!