Gerbera Wrightii


Characteristics of Gerbera Wrightii:

Roots 1.5-3 mm wide. Leaves 11.8-24.5 cm long, 3-7 cm wide. Petiole 6.5-16 cm long, 1-2.5 mm wide, up to 10 mm at the base, decaying milky-greyish cobwebbytomentose, later pilose to glabrous. Blade 4.5-9 cm long, broadly elliptic-oblong or ovate; apex cuneate, base broadly cordate, cuneate along the petiole; margin subentire to regularly or more rarely irregularly subsinuate, crenate-toothed, glabrous to pilose. Upper surface dark green, hardly shining, glabrous to sparsely cobwebby pilose-villose; lower surface softly persistently cobwebby whitish-greyish tomentose, midvein prominent and somewhat raised, :t cobwebby.

Scapes 1-4, 26-58(-72) cm long, 2-5 mm wide, decaying cobwebby tomentose as on the petiole leaving patches of distinctly cobwebby, greyish hairs. Involucral bracts 4-19 mm long, 0.5-3 mm wide.

Heads 16-26 mm long, 18-40 mm wide, prominent. Ray florets white, sometimes reddish below, rarely coppery red on both surfaces. Tube 4-7 mm long, lower limb 16-29 mm long, 2-5 mm wide, upper limb 2-4 mm long (in one case as an abnormity 10 mm long), style 2-4 mm long. Disc florets with the tube 4-8 mm long, limbs 2-3.5 mm long.

Mature achenes not seen. Pappus whitish to whitish-tawny.

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Distribution: Endemic on the Cape Peninsula-from Table Mt. in the north and southwards to Simonstown.

Ecology: Gerbera Wrightii grows on slopes, hills, and mountains in grassy and stony places. 80-800 m a.s.1.

Flowering season: Mainly from Oct.-Dec., but also from Sept.-Jan. A single report from June may be a misprint.

Gerbera Wrightii is the most handsome species in sect. Gerbera. It is recognized by the usually distinctly cordate leaves and the characteristically spotted wool on the scape. The extremely confined distribution of this species is remarkable. It is placed by Linn. f. under A. piloselloides in herb. LINN.

(NBG); Pape s.n. (SAM, Hybridization within sect. Gerbera)

A small group of sheets cannot be assigned to any species, and although the proposal of hybridization may seem an easy way to explain the morphological variation, much favours that hybridization does play a role in this section. Admittedly, the suspected hybrids seem to be perfectly fertile, but this is also the case in sect. Lasiopus (see this section). Experimental crossing will probably be important in future horticultural work. At present, no species of sect. Gerbera is cultivated in Europe.

Salter proposed two hybrids in the section (efr. a type-written note on sheet Salter 8531 A (BOL), unpubl.). Of these, at least the hybrid G. linnaei X G. crocea seems convincing. It is intermediary in leaf form and the pappus is pale brown or whitish-tawny, sometimes even whitish. It is represented by the following collections: Acock 2851 (leaf forms) (S), 4167 (S); Barker 3228 (NBG); Compton 1530617239); Salter 289/16a (sterile) (BOL), 8532 A (BM, BOL), 8532 B (BOL, NBG), 8532 C & D (BOL); Tyson 2570 (SAM); Wall s.n. 18.11. 1938 p.p. (S).

Compton 18482 (NBG); Ecklon & Zeyher 89-9 pp. (S); Esterhuysen 23815 (BOL); Grobler 517 (PRE); Stokoe s.n. (SAM, 62094); anonymous No. 198 Oct. 1922 (BOL) are collections with snow-white pappus, but the leaves are close to those of G. tomentosa, although more sinuate.

Drawing to follow

They are collected in an area from Paarl to Montagu (Swellendam) and appear to be G. crocea x G. tomentosa, the anonymous collection (BOL) with narrow leaves perhaps even G. crocea x G. serrata. It is not reported from the Cape Peninsula. Stokoe denotes this sheet G. leucothrix Harv. (1865: 521), and it is likely that Harvey’s name could be applied to this little group of specimens, although Harvey suspected his single studied specimen to be G. crocea x G. serrata.

A few collections have leaves like G. linnaei, but white pappus: Esterhuysen 7820 (sterile) (BOL), 8704 (BOL), 8991 (sterile) (BOL), 22628 (BOL, LD, PRE), 28199 (BOL), all from Worcester; Marloth 2350 (CBS) (PRE). They may be hybrids, probably G. linnaei x G. crocea, but are collected from 1200-1300 m a.s.l. and seemingly poorly developed. The lobes of the leaves are close to the other proposed Salter-hybrid (Salter 7805 (BaL), one sheet only), G. linnaei x Gerbera Wrightii, but this is of course from the Cape Peninsula, not from the mainland. Two Wall sheets from the collection mentioned above are collected on the Peninsula and probably similar to the Salter collection.

Finally, two collections must be suspected to be the hybrid G. crocea x Gerbera Wrightii. They have the scape tomentum of the latter species, while the leaves are irregularly sinuate as in G. crocea; the lower leaf tomentum is densely whitish and the pappus snow-white. They are collected on the Peninsula: Lewis 6211 and Martin 332 (both NBG).

All these proposals await further studies. The collections quoted here are not repeated in the list of selected collections.

Source: Opera Botanica 78 1985

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