New Moraea species

Michael Mace
Mon, 24 Feb 2014 20:54:27 PST
Wow, Roy, did you ever open a can of worms. But it's a really interesting
can, so thanks!

I hadn't heard of Moraea hainebachiana before, so I did some searching. That
led to this website in Hebrew:…

The auto-translated version of the site seems to say that the proceeds of
the auction were used to buy the field where the flowers grow. Can anyone
confirm that? If true, it'd be the nicest bit of plant conservation news
I've heard in a while. What a great concept -- auction the name of the
species in order to save it.
As the quasi-translated site says, "countless endings happy."

I thought the new species looked a lot like Moraea tripetala, so I did more
research. That led me to this monograph from late 2012 by Goldblatt and

Sure enough, they blew up Moraea tripetala into NINE separate species plus
three subspecies. That's ironic, since Goldblatt was the author who
originally lumped together several species into M. tripetala. Oh well: a
foolish consistency, etc. Here's an excerpt from the article's summary:
"Field and laboratory research has shown that the Moraea tripetala complex
of western South Africa...has a pattern of morphological and cytological
variation too complex to be accommodated in a single species....We propose
recognizing nine species and three additional subspecies for plants
currently assigned to M. tripetala. M. grandis, from the western Karoo, has
virtually free filaments and leaves often ± plane distally; closely allied
M. amabilis, also with ± free filaments and often hairy leaves, is centred
in the western Karoo and Olifants River Valley. Its range overlaps that of
M. cuspidata, which has narrowly channelled, smooth leaves, linear inner
tepals spreading distally and filaments united for up to 1.5 mm. M.
decipiens from the Piketberg, M. hainebachiana, a local endemic of coastal
limestone fynbos in the Saldanha District, M. ogamana from seasonally wet
lowlands, and early flowering M. mutila constitute the remaining species of
the complex in the southwestern Western Cape. M. helmei, a local endemic of
middle elevations in the Kamiesberg, Namaqualand, has small flowers with
short, tricuspidate inner tepals. All but M. amabilis and M. mutila are new
species. We divide M. tripetala sensu stricto into three subspecies:
widespread subsp. tripetala, subsp. violacea from the interior Cape flora
region, and late-flowering subsp. jacquiniana from the Cape Peninsula and
surrounding mountains."

I was delighted to find that the article was published in Bothalia, which
allows you to download full PDF copies of the articles. Yay!

Since I hadn't been aware of that article, I decided I should check for
others. And I found another one with eight new Moraea species:… a full revision of the entire genus based on new genetic

Fortunately, the revision doesn't change species names, but the species are
now arranged in new groups.

So, all of that means that the wiki section on Moraea is out of date. We
have a bunch of new species to add, and we need to divide up the M.
tripetala entry into nine species.

Plus, I have six or seven pots of M. tripetala that I now need to

What a mess. But a fun mess!

San Jose, CA

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