The pearly and odd-constructed forms, however, so frequently found in this division, abundantly compensate for their trifling blossoms. Their beauties are equal to others which are always in bloom.Adrian Haworth. Transcations of the Linnean Society. 1801.
Haworthia is a genus of succulent plants endemic to Southern Africa, named after the British botanist Adrian Haworth. Haworthias are relatively small, and most consist of low-growing rosettes of succulent leaves. With multitudes of species, they comprise numerous striking appearances and unusual forms, ranging from narrow leaves with black-and-white zebra stripes, to clear or reticulated translucent leaves. These tiny plant gems are a collector’s dream.
Haworthias were included in the Aloe genus before being promoted to a new genus in the Asphodelaceae family, in the early 1800’s. Recently, further genetic studies divided Haworthia into three genera: Haworthia (42 species), Haworthiopsis (18 species) and Tulista (4 species).
While most succulents like full sun, Haworthias are more adapted to semi-shade conditions. They often grow under shrubby plants or rock overhands. In their native habitats, Haworthias are very hard to be found. Their population sizes are small. Often within several meters, tens to hundreds of individuals grow together. On the other hand, their population distributions are fragmented and the distances are often measured in kilometers. In a field trip searching for succulents, you are likely to see H. viscosa or H. cymbiformis. With good luck you may encounter H. arachnoidea. Other common species in cultivation like H. retusa can barely be found. So far the recognized Haworthia species mainly grow near cities or roads. There are certainly more yet to be discovered.
A wonderful feature of Haworthia is the great variation in the appearance. Textures and colors vary greatly among individuals and often display exceptionally attractive combinations. Growers carefully select parents and then hybridize to create more fascinating varieties. Though the children’s combinations of features can only be guessed, the results will seldom disappoint. The people who enjoy Haworthias have a true admiration for the beauty of each individual plant.