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|Distribution:||Africa: South Africa: Western Cape:|
The aggregate Arachnoidea is a fascinating component of the genus Haworthia and certainly not less interesting than the retuse Haworthias from mostly the southern areas of South Africa.
A multitude of forms exist, some large, some small, some with many spines, some hardly any at all, short and long etc. Where the beauty of the retuse Haworthias is found in the multitude of different marking on the leaves the Arachnoideas have a wonderful and varied display of spines or hairs. Whereas it was previously accepted that Haworthia arachnoidea has plain green leaves this is not really the case. Some translucent forms exist that are clearly still associated with Haworthia arachnoidea though they hint at being trans forms that may well link into other genera.
One way of dealing with this would be to call them all Haworthia arachnoidea and regard the variation just as many different forms of the same genus. Another option would be to accept many varieties. Both these approaches run into trouble where plants are not so readily distinguished from other genera e.g. H. jansenvillensis and in certain instances H. decipiens etc. It therefore seems practical to rather apply different species names in a number (or many) of instances and let them be grouped together under a single aggregate Arachnoidea.
Where there is doubt regarding their status regarding the aggregate I propose trans-aggregates e.g. Arachnoidea/Decipiens or Arachnoidea/Jansenvillensis etc. With administration and communication there is much less disturbance in changing aggregate names than changing species names. (Or varieties or subspecies for that matter.) These aggregates should rather be left out of the hierarchy of the standard taxonomical approach and be mentioned as an addendum mainly for clarification. I admire much the work done by Ingo Breuer in this regard and think that further reductions or even combinations of these aggregates may eventually bring us a very useful system.
Haworthia royalis refers to a large growing form of the Arachnoidea aggregate south of Oudtshoorn.(Note: Ingo Breuer has placed the plants around Oudtshoorn under the aggregate Cangoensis. Personally I think all these should belong to the aggregate Arachnoidea.) Not all the plants are large. The plants proliferate freely from the base similar to some relatives close to Oudtshoorn (Haworthia cangoensis *) and elsewhere. Haworthia royalis grows on an embankment of ferri-crete stones.
* The page that I placed under Haworthia cangoensis on this website desperately needs to be revised - I shall get to that sometime..
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