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Haworthia springbokvlakensis

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Haworthia springbokvlakensis
The transparent leaves of this little botanical treasure have characteristic
fine purple-brown stripes and grows almost flat to the ground.
 

Description: Haworthia springbokvlakensis is a tiny perennial- succulent with retuse leaves almost flat to the ground.
Stem: Stemless.
Rosettes: This species is very slow growing and forms a solitary few-leaved rosette 7 to 10 cm in diameter, each rosette has only 8 to 12 leaves.
Leaves: 3,5-6 cm long and about 1,5 cm large, retuse, turgid grey-green to greyish-pink with translucent "windows" ornamented with characteristic fine purple-brown pattern of (usually) not-branched striations on the terminal part. They are more or less smooth with very small tubercles the same colour of the leaf. Minute teeth are found on the margin. 
Flowers: Flowers are borne on a slender inflorescence up to 25 cm tall, they are whitish, the petals have a darker brown mid-line.
 

 
A leaf slice showing the translucent tissues.


The fenestrate leaves have a nearly transparent flat apex exposed to the sun and are even at the soil level. This permit the plants to minimize the heating effects and to reduce the drying effects of drought.

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The disadvantage is the limited amount of leaf surface area exposed to the sun, but the fenestration allow sunlight to be captured and utilized even when the plant are retracted below the surface of the soil.

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Family: Asphodelaceae (Aloacee - Liliaceae)

Scientific name:  Haworthia springbokvlakensis C.L.Scott
Published in: Journ. S. Afr. Bot. xxxvi. 288 (1970).

Origin:  South Africa (Eastern cape, East of Little Karoo)

Habitat: A limited number of plant were found scattered on a small hill in the dry interior West Cape around Oudtshoorn where the population density was never very high. In this area the rain is scant but can occur in winter or summer. They grows almost buried with only the upper retuse face of the leaves visible, on a firm hard gravely soil with pH 6,8 in the protection of shrubs often in deep shade and covered with dust.

Etymology: The species has been named spingbokwlakensis for the occurrence on one of dozen or more places named Spingbokvlatke in Little Karro region (South-Africa). The name Springbokvlakte indicates a "flats where the springboks are found" (Springbok are South African gazelle noted for springing lightly into the air)

Synonyms:  

  • Haworthia retusa var. springbokvlakensis

 


 

 


 

Notes: Fenestrate growth habit. A number of South African succulents like Lithops ssp. and Haworthia ssp. to escape the killing heat of the desert grow almost entirely subterranean and have evolved special fenestrate leaves that grow below the surface of the soil; This succulent  leaves have a nearly transparent flat apex exposed to the atmosphere and are even at the soil level. This permit the plants to minimize the heating effects of high light intensity and to reduce the drying effects of desert air during prolonged drought. There are no stomata in the windows, so little water is lost, these plants remain subterranean because they have contractile roots which continually pull the plants deeper into the ground as the stem elongates. The disadvantage, however, is the limited amount of leaf surface area exposed to the sun for photosynthesis to supply food for the plant but the translucent window in the top surface, however, the fenestration allow sunlight to be captured and utilized even when the plant are retracted below the surface of the soil. This is an interesting evolutionary adaptation to overcome this light problem; their leaves are a simple optical system that permits light striking the windows to be diffused onto the green, photosynthesizing surface situated underground. So, with a minimum of exposure to the outside environment, a maximum area of photosynthetic tissue is ensured.

 


Propagation
: Usually by seeds or offsets that occasionally appear at the base
between the leaves; leave them attached until they are 1/3 the size of the parent and then detach and plant.

Cultivation: This is one of the choicest but slow growing of the retuse-leaved haworthias. Need regular water but do not water again until dry. Also, it is a species that is dormant in the winter and require very little water (maybe even none) during the cold months. Frost Tolerance:  Light frost protection required. Minimum of 5C for safe growing (but hardy up to -5C or less.) Sun Exposure: Some shade is also in order, as the plants grows typically under the protection of bushes. Can be sunburned if moved from shade/greenhouse into full sun too quickly. The amount of sunlight it can withstand without scorching depends upon the how hot it becomes in the summer in the locale in which it is planted. It will have more colour if it receives more light. During the spring it may be able to take some sun until the heat arrives at the end of spring. In an area that has hot afternoon sun, it may be able to take full morning sun, but requires afternoon shade or afternoon light shade.

 

 

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This old page has been moved! Click the link next on the right to enter the new Enciclopedia of Succulents. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.

Encyclopedia of Succulents