Haworthia marumiana var. batesiana
Haworthia marumiana Uitewaal var. batesiana (Uitewaal) M.B.Bayer
Common names: Camdebo cliff haworthia (Eng.), Kamdebo-dwergaalwyntjie (Afr.)
Haworthia marumiana var. batesiana is a dwarf, cliff-hugging plant with numerous rosettes of green, ovate-lanceolate, succulent leaves and a solitary inflorescence bearing white flowers in spring. It grows on cliffs in the Escarpment Mountains near Graaff-Reinet (Eastern Cape). Best grown in containers.
Fig. 1. A solitary Haworthia marumiana var. batesiana plant in flower, growing in its native habitat on a cliff at the Valley of Desolation near Graaff-Reinet.
Plants stemless, rosulate succulents up to 45 mm in diameter, proliferating from the base to form large, dense clusters. The leaves about 23 × 6 mm, ascending (outer spreading and incurved), green, incurved, flattened, lanceolate to ovate lanceolate; upper surface flat to subconvex, lower surface convex, with centric keel towards the tip, both surfaces with 6–8 pellucid longitudinal lines forming a reticulate pattern; margin entire; apex acuminate-aristate. The inflorescence is an ascending raceme up to about 310 mm long. The flowers about 12; pedicels up to 4 mm long, erect, the perianth white, up to 11 mm long; tube compressed at base, 4 mm in diameter, curved, funnel-shaped; segments free, with green keels, two-lipped, the upper segments erect, slightly recurved. Stamens 7–8 mm long. Ovary 5 × 2 mm; style 1,5 mm long, capitate. Flowering is mainly in spring (September to October).
Fig. 2. A close-up of a rosette of Haworthia marumiana var. batesiana in cultivation.
Confined to the Escarpment Mountains near Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, it is well protected by its difficult-to-reach, cliff-face habitat that falls within a greater conservation region, and consequently, it is not at risk of extinction.
Fig. 3. The cliffs at the Valley of Desolation near Graaff-Reinet, habitat of Haworthia marumiana var. batesiana.
Distribution and habitat
Haworthia marumiana var. batesiana is only known from the higher-lying Escarpment Mountain cliff faces around Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, growing at an altitude of 500–1500 m. It can be seen on sheer cliffs at the Valley of Desolation. The geology consists of Beaufort shales, Adelaide Subgroup (Karoo Supergroup). The cliffs have many ledges, crevices and fissures, which is ideal for establishment of plants.
The plants grow firmly rooted in crevices and size of the cluster often depends on the growing space allowed by the crevice. Temperatures are high in summer (35–40°C). Winters are cooler but frost is rare or absent or limited to flat terrain. The average annual daily maximum temperature is about 24°C and the average annual daily minimum temperature about 9°C. Rainfall occurs mainly in summer, ranging from 300–400 mm per annum in the form of thunder showers or cyclonic winter rain.
The associated vegetation consists of Camdebo Escarpment Thicket of the Albany Thicket Biome (Mucina et al. 2006). Associated cliff-dwelling plants sharing its habitat at the Valley of Desolation include the following species: Cotyledon orbiculata var. orbiculata, Crassula exilis subsp. cooperi, C. lanceolata subsp. lanceolata, C. nemorosa and C. perforata, Delosperma spp., Drimia uniflora and Haemanthus humilis subsp. hirsutus.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
Haworthia marumiana was named by the Dutchman, Uitewaal, in Cactussen en Vetplanten in 1940. Uitewaal named his Haworthia batesiana in the National Cactus and Succulent Journal in 1948, from plants sent to J.T. Bates by Mrs E. Ferguson. Uitewaal noticed the plants in Bates’s collection, prompting him to name it after him. Bruce Bayer reduced its status to a variety of H. marumiana in his book Haworthia Revisited in 1999. Named for J.T. Bates (1884–1966), London trolley bus conductor and collector of succulent plants.
Haworthia marumiana var. batesiana is related to Haworthia marumiana var. reddii, another cliff-dweller, from the Waterdown Dam near Cathcart. It can at once be distinguished from the other varieties by its leaves, which are more succulent, have an entire margin and a distinctive reticulate pattern on the leaves.
Fig. 4. The cliffs at the Valley of Desolation near Graaff-Reinet, habitat of Haworthia marumiana var. batesiana.
The rounded clusters grow on south-facing, shady cliffs. The translucent nature allows for deep light penetration in this shady environment. The leaves of the rosettes become incurved under dry conditions;. This is an adaptation to the semi-arid environment and also helps with adjustment to the available light. The leaves are usually green but become purplish during dry periods, as the plants aestivate, blocking out excessive light and reducing photosynthesis. Plants are long-lived, with soft leaves that wither from the base. The very fleshy leaves are soft, becoming turgid after rain, but channelled during dry periods, an adaptation to the dry cliff habitat.
The soft texture of the leaves and the entire margin suggest a reduction in armament in response to the undisturbed cliff habitat, in contrast to the thorny but heavily grazed surrounding Nama Karoo vegetation.
The small, white, 2-lipped flowers are presented ascending spreading, to attract the flying insect that pollinates them. The fruits ripen in summer and the seeds are dispersed by wind. The small, angular seeds are ideal for establishment in crevices.
Haworthia marumiana var. batesiana suckers freely from the base, forming dense, rounded clusters. Continual sprouting from the base represents an efficient vegetative backup dispersal strategy for this harsh cliff-face environment. Detached clusters or heads will also root if they fall into a crevice.
No medicinal or cultural uses have been recorded. Haworthias are extremely popular, ornamental container plants in the northern hemisphere, because of their small size and relative ease of growth.
Fig. 5. A close-up of a cluster of Haworthia marumiana var. batesiana, growing in cultivation.
Growing Haworthia marumiana var. batesiana
Haworthia marumiana var. batesiana is easily grown and does well in cultivation. It should preferably be kept in a partially shady place. Outside its habitat, it is best grown under controlled conditions in a greenhouse. Better to grow these decorative, dwarf, aloe-like succulents in containers. Grow in a sandy, well-drained medium as is found in its natural habitat. Keep dry during the winter months. Feed during spring and summer with ample compost or liquid organic fertiliser.
Haworthia marumiana var. batesiana is easily grown from division. Divide the plants in spring or summer and plant in a shallow tray in a sandy mixture (e.g. peat, sand and polystyrene) and keep moist. Rooting occurs within 3 weeks and once well rooted, transfer to individual containers. Place container in a shady position but with full light. The south side of a building is ideal.
Sow seed in spring, summer or autumn, in a sandy medium. First moisten the substrate with fine rose. Cover the seed lightly with a thin layer of sand. Keep moist and in a shady position. Germination usually occurs within 3 weeks and the young seedlings are relatively fast growing. Transplant seedlings to individual containers when they are large enough to handle.
Plants are relatively disease free but aphids, slugs and snails can sometimes be a problem.
- Bayer, M.B. & Van Jaarsveld, E.J. 2001. Haworthia. In U. Eggli. (ed.), Illustrated handbook of succulent plants: Monocotyledons. Springer, Berlin.
- Bayer, M.B. 1999. Haworthia revisited, a revision of the genus. Umdaus Press, Hatfield.
- Glen, H.F. & Germishuizen, G. (compilers). 2010. Botanical exploration of southern Africa, edition 2. Strelitzia 26. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
- Mucina, L. & Rutherford, M.C. (eds) 2006. The vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Strelitzia 19. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
- Scott, C.L. 1968. A new species of Haworthia. Journal of South African Botany 34: 1.
- Uitewaal, A.J.A. 1948. Haworthia batesiana Uitewaal sp. nov. The National Cactus & Succulent Journal 3(4): 101.
- Van Jaarsveld, E.J. & Forster, P.I. 2001. Bulbine. In U. Eggli, Sukkulenten Lexicon (Band 1). Einkeimblattrige Pflanzen (Monocotyledonen). Ulmer, Stuttgart.
Ernst van Jaarsveld
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (Retired 2015)
Extraordinary senior lecturer and researcher,
Department of Biodiversity and Conservation, University of the Western Cape
Plant Type: Succulent
SA Distribution: Eastern Cape
Soil type: Sandy
Flowering season: Spring
PH: Acid, Neutral
Flower colour: Green, White
Aspect: Shade, Morning Sun (Semi Shade), Afternoon Sun (Semi Shade)
Gardening skill: Easy