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Haworthia papillaris
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Distribution: Africa: South Africa: Western Cape:

(This is mostly a reprint of my article featured in Haworthiad some time ago),

Haworthia papillaris - Breuer, Ingo .The Genus Haworthia Alsterworthia International 2010.

Haworthia papillaris occurs naturally south of Dysselsdorp in the Oudtshoorn district in the southern Cape. The plants belong to the Haworthia aggregate 'Truncata'. (I shall use the aggregate term here as applied by Mr. Ingo Breuer.),

Although there are notable differences in various populations of Haworthia truncata this unique population of small plants is probably the most diverse of them all hence its own species name given by Ingo Breuer. The coastal areas are better known for major differences between Haworthia populations over relatively small distances, but here however is a similar example that occurs in the heart of the Little Karoo.

The aggregate Truncata is well represented in the area around Dysselsdorp.

Firstly there is the rather famous (VDV 120) population of attractive fairly large plants near town.

Then there is the very much lesser known shiny form that is thinly but widely scattered over the farm Waaikraal a few km south west of Dysselsdorp.

Almost continuous with this Waaikraal population towards the east Haworthia papillaris is found. At first this population was regarded as very small but more populations have subsequently been discovered.

The type locality finds itself on a long stony ridge where the plants grow amongst ferricrete pebbles, similar to H truncata. The plants do not extent over the entire ridge but occur in isolated little areas here and there. Because of their small size you really have to look very carefully to find them, especially since they are also often hidden under bushes or covered with debris (old leaves, twigs etc).

The plants are the smallist known of the Truncata aggregate, are normally very scabrid and are often covered with little protrusions or papillae on the top of the leaves.

The type locality borders on a population of Haworthia tuberculata towards the east. Although one maybe tempted to ascribe the morphological characteristics of Haworthia papillaris to a possible influence of the nearby Haworthia tuberculata (section Hexangularis) it does seem unlikely due to them belonging to different sections of the genus that do not easily hybridize, however not to say that hybrids cannot occur. Haworthia papillaris does not seem to share any other attributes of the section Hexangularis.

Haworthia papillaris is a rare plant in collections. It does not seem to flower as prolifically as some other Truncata, and seed production in nature tends to be rather skimpy.

Propagation is similar to others of the aggregate, by seed, leaf cuttings or root cuttings.


I do remember when exploring the Waaikraal farm many years ago that within meters of some scattered normal sized shiny typical Waaikraal Haworthia truncata, I discovered a single ridge containing numerous tiny dark H truncata-like plants. I found it extremely odd at the time, but had no fore-knowledge of the population of Haworthia papillaris a few kilometers eastwards. Unfortunately I have no photographs of this interesting ridge and neither have I been able to find it again on a subsequent visit.

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A cultivated plant.

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