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Origin and Habitat: Sansevieria pearsonii is widespread in the drier parts of the South Africa (Transvaal and Natal), Swaziland, Natal, Namibia; also in tropical Africa up to S. Tanzania.
Habitat and ecology: This xerophyte species occurs in summer rainfall areas in scrub or in open savanna forest or on river banks, in dry sandy or rocky soil. Often forming large dense colonies with several accompanying succulents such as Euphorbia pseudocactus, Euphorbia grandicornis, Aloe marlothii, Aloe greenii, Senecio pleistocephalus, Cotyledon orbiculata, Bulbine frutescens, Delosperma tradescantioides, Plectranthus neochilus, Pachypodium saundersii, only to cite a few of the more common.
- Sansevieria pearsonii N.E.Br.
Sansevieria pearsonii N.E.Br.
Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1911: 97 (1911).
ENGLISH: spiky mother-in-law's tongue, gemsbok horn, stiff bowstring
AFRIKAANS (Afrikaans): Bobbejaan-sedood, Gemsbok-horing, Gemsbokhoring
TSWANA (Setswana): mokgotshi, mokgotshe dmontonanyana
Description: Sansevieria pearsonii is a stemless fibrous perennials leaf-succulent forming large colonies from a creeping rhizome, and has 5-9 opposite very tough, sharply pointed, cylindrical leaves with a narrow groove on the inside. Flowers are white or tinged pink, produced in a spray up to 1 metre long.
Derivation of specific name: pearsonii named after Henry Harold Welch Pearson (1870-1916), first Director of Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens.
Rhizome: Stout creeping.
Leaves: Adult leaves 3-5(-7), distichous (in two ranks), erect, but gradually diverging from base to apex, alternate, cylindrical, bases overlapping below, 50-100 cm long, 3-4.5 cm thick from front to back and 3-4.5 cm thick from side to side at the base, hard, smooth becoming ribbed with age, grooved on inside, slightly compressed, gradually tapering from the base to a very acute, rigid, whitish point 1-2 mm long, epidermis rather rough, dull dark green, glaucous-green or bluish-green, when young somewhat faintly banded with paler green, rather inconspicuously marked with numerous very interrupted darker lines, and 9-12 continuous slightly impressed lines, forming slight longitudinal grooves. Margins red with a white outer membrane. Leaves of seedling or juvenile plants 8-10, rosulate, spreading to all parts, linear-acuminate, rigid, 6-30 cm long, the outermost or smaller 4-6 mm broad, gradually curving inwards at maturity, broadly and shallowly concave above, convex beneath, becoming distichous and cylindrical with an apical groove.
Inflorescence: A tall spike-like raceme, emerging from centre of leaves, up to 1 m high; peduncle with 5-7 narrow, pointed bracts.
Flowers: Tubular, numerous, arranged in small, knobbly, bracteate clusters of 6-10 flowers each, clusters placed irregularly along peduncle; pedicels articulated in the middle Perianth 18-35 mm long; tube 12-25 mm long; lobes 6-10 mm long, colour variously described as drab, cream, greyish or bluish mauve at base, red-streaked higher up, tepals cream inside with pale pink or mauve.
Blooming season: Flowers late-winter to spring (July September), anthesis at night as in other species.
Fruit: Berries, globose, orange.
Notes: The genus Sansevieria numbers about 60 species most of them native of Africa, it has been variously included in the Amaryllidaceae, the Liliaceae and the Agavaceae but is nowadays usually placed in the Dracaenaceae.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) J.P. Roux “Flora of South Africa”, 2003
2) Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2012). “Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies”. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192.
3) Timberlake, J.R. & Martins, E.S. (eds.) (2010). “Flora Zambesiaca” 13(2): 1-83. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
4) Figueiredo, E. & Smith, G.F. (2008). “Plants of Angola”. Strelitzia 22: 1-279. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
5) Mwachala, G. & Mbugua, P.K. (2007). “Dracaenaceae”. Flora of Tropical East Africa: 1-43.
6) Jankalski, S. (2006). “Brown's Sansevieria monograph - an update. Sansevieria” 15: 21-29.
7) Eggli, U. (ed.) (2001). “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Monocotyledons” 1-354. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York.
8) Brown, N.Edward “Sansevieria. A Monograph of All the Known Species”. Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information (Royal Gardens, Kew) 1915, 185-261 (1915).
9) Gerrit Germishuizen “Transvaal Wild Flowers” Macmillan South Africa (Publishers), 1982
10) Alison Heath, Roger Heath “Field Guide to the Plants of Northern Botswana, Including the Okavango Delta: Useful in Countries and Geographical Areas Adjacent to Northern Botswana in the Zambesi Basin” Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2009
11) Kristo Pienaar “The South African what Flower is That?” Struik, 2000
12) Ernst Van Jaarsveld, Ben-Erik Van Wyk, Gideon Smith “Succulents of South Africa: A Guide to the Regional Diversity” Tafelberg, 2000
13) Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. “Fibres” PROTA, 2012
Cultivation and Propagation: Sansevieria Pearsonii are easy to growing and tolerate a wide range of conditions. A great container plant that needs little care.
Soil: Use a soil mix consisting of 3 parts loam to 1 part of pumice. Always underpot sansevierias.
Moisture requirements: The plants are very drought tolerant and are watered about every other week during the growing season. During the winter months they are watered once a month. Water sparingly and not at all as temperatures dip in winter but can tolerate going months between watering.
Fertilization: They are fertilized once during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer.
Light requirements: Will tolerate low light levels but grows best and flowers if given bright light and even tolerates full sun. In the garden In mild to tropical climates it prefers semishade or shade and it is not fussy.
Hardness: Sansevieria Pearsonii is theoretically hardy to -2° C, particularly when dry - but it is best to avoid freezing temperatures. If growing outdoors in frost free areas keep in a covered patio or under an area where plants do not receive winter rainfall.
Heat Tolerance: Excellent.
Uses: Sansevieria Pearsonii. Provides fine fibres for weaving
Propagation: Sansevierias are propagated by cuttings or by divisions taken at any time. Cuttings should be at least 10 cm long and inserted in moist sand. A rhizome will emerge at the cut edge of the leaf.
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