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|Distribution:||Africa: South Africa: Eastern Cape:|
Gasteria armstrongii Schonland. A few paragraphs by Gerhard Marx.
One does not normally think of Gasterias as plants that can grow almost totally sunken and flush with the ground level, but Gasteria armstrongii is such an exception. During dry periods the plants become dull brown and withdraw into the ground exposing only the top part of the leaves and become extremely difficult to spot. But even during lush times G. armstrongii can hide very well amongst the low grass and low coastal fynbos scrub.
Gasteria armstrongii remains small and distichous but occasionally forms low clumps of several heads. Juvenile plants of G. nitida looks almost identical to G. armstrongii and the flowers of G. nitida are also very similar. The latter shared features caused Ernst van Jaarsveld to lump G. armstrongii as variety of G. nitida (1992) but DNA studies proved it to be distinct and in 2005 Van Jaarsveld reinstated the original description as species.
Gasteria armstrongii occurs in a few small populations on the coastal flats between Humansdorp in the west and The Gamtoos River in the east. According to Van Jaarsveld it is the most vulnerable of all Gasterias due to the fact that its habitat is threatened by development. The construction of the N2 Highway, for example, destroyed the largest part of one population north-east of Jeffrey’s Bay.
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