Gerbera Tomentosa

Characteristics of Gerbera Tomentosa:

Roots 1-2.5 mm wide. Crown villose or villose-Ianate. Leaves (3-)6-32.5 cm long, 1.9-{).8(-9.7) cm wide. Petiole (1-)2.5-23 cm long, 1 mm wide, up to 5 mm at the base, pilose or often densely whitish, greyish or golden-yellow to brownish tomentose, sometimes extremely densely lanate, later pilose to subglabrous. Blade 2-18 cm long, elliptic-oblong, ovate, or broadly lanceolate, in the latter case usually at least 10 cm long; apex rounded to obtuse, base often narrowly cordate, but varying from truncate to cuneate or cordate and cuneate only near the petiole; margin entire, dentate, regularly or irregularly subsinuate to sinuate, sometimes with rather long concavities, rarely sublyrate; margin crenate or drawn out into points resembling teeth, usually more or less pilose-villose. Upper surface green to dark green, shiny, glabrous or decaying cobwebby tomentose in colours similar to petiole; lower surface softly to very densely, persistently golden-brownish to yellow-brownish, rarely greyish, tomentose or lanate.

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Scapes 1_, 15-83 cm long, 1_.5 mm wide; hair-covering as on the petiole, in the basal part often goldenbrownish or greyish tomentose-villose; bracts often small and always few (1-3) in number, but sometimes up to about 20 mm long. Involucral bracts 2-19 mm long, 0.5-3 mm wide, imbricate, ::t long tapering, characteristically golden-brownish tomentose, but sometimes densely light-haired lanate, tips like the margins sometimes reddish to dark tinged.

Heads variable in size, 10-25 mm long, 10-35 mm wide. Rays often white or red to purplish below; also yellow-reddish, cream, and orange rays have been reported. Tube 3-6 mm long, lower limb 11-30 mm long, 1.5-5 mm wide, upper limb 2.5_(-7) mm long, style 2_ mm long. Disc florets light in colour, tube 3-8 mm long, the limbs 2.5-3.5 mm long.

Achenes about 7 mm long, in one case with a beaked part, 2 mm long, seen only mature in a few cases.

Pappus whitish to whitish-tawny.

Distribution: Gerbera Tomentosa can be found from the Cape Penninsula (Simonstown) and eastwards to around Port Elizabeth, reaching Ceres and Willowmore in the inland. There appears to be a gap in distribution from Swellendam to Uniondale. Specimens east of Uniondale all have more or less cordate leaves, which are not lanate, but this does not justify any subdivision of the species.

Ecology:  Found in sandy, stony soil, often on mountain slopes and rather recently burnt areas. In one case reported from peaty soil on a moist south-facing slope.

Flowering season: Throughout the year except May and July, mainly from Oct.-Nov.

Gerbera Tomentosa is morphologically rather close to G. serrata, but the leaves are usually longer, thicker and broader, and the tomentum more well developed. The variation is remarkable, both dwarf-forms (possibly the G. microcephala Less.) and giant forms being present. The involucre has distinctly imbricate bracts, more prominent and usually more tomentose than in G. serrata. Some specimens of G. tomentosa are extremely tomentose-lanate, but the variation is so contino us that I see no reason to accept more than one taxon (a general tendency in the genus).

Gerbera tomentosa is remarkable in having sometimes yellow rays, noticed in G. linnaei, but not in any other species in the section. The presence of a beak on the achene is even more surprising. Since this and the reduction in the number of bracts are probably advanced traits, G. tomentosa in several aspects would seem to be the most advanced species within the section.

Source: Opera Botanica 78 1985

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