Gerbera sylvicola I.M.Johnson, N.R.Crouch & T.J.Edwards, 2014

Johnson, Isabel M., Crouch, Neil R. & Edwards, Trevor J., 2014, Gerbera sylvicola (Asteraceae: Mutisieae), a new forest species from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Phytotaxa 186 (4), pp. 229-235 : 230

publication ID 10.11646/phytotaxa.186.4.7


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Gerbera sylvicola I.M.Johnson, N.R.Crouch & T.J.Edwards

sp. nov.

Gerbera sylvicola I.M.Johnson, N.R.Crouch & T.J.Edwards View in CoL , sp. nov. ( Fig. 1 View FIGURE 1 A−I).

Diagnosis:—The new species differs from G. kraussii ( Hilliard 1977) in its upper leaf surface being pilose rather than velvety pubescent, in its leaf base never contracting into a winged petiole, and in its pappus that is whitish rather than violet-purple. It differs from G. ambigua ( Hilliard 1977) in presenting strongly raised veins below, in lacking underground stolons, and in holding the blades of its much larger leaves more or less horizontal rather than angled.

Type: — SOUTH AFRICA. KwaZulu-Natal: iLembe District, Ndwedwe Local Municipality, farm ‘ Fruein’ no 7413, elev. 391 m, in southfacing Scarp Forest on steep slope near stream amongst sandstone boulders, S 29.3389343°; E 31.1315906°, 5 September 2011, I GoogleMaps . Johnson , N. Crouch & D. Styles 1524 (holotype BNRH!) .

Acaulescent perennial herb sometimes dividing at the crown. Roots thick, thong-like, to 370 × 4 mm. Rhizome stout, crown thick, woody, silky-woolly. Leaves radical, spreading, ovate to suborbicular, blade 11–23 × 12–22 cm, upper surface dark green, pilose; lower surface pale greenish-white, tomentose, white-felted, midrib and ca. 5 side nerves strongly raised; margins entire to repand with short, hornlike projections where tertiary veins meet margin, secondary veins looping, apex rounded to obtuse, base cordate, lobes often imbricate with age. Petiole terete, tomentose-villose, up to 190 × 4 mm. Scapes ebracteate, 1–7 from crown, 150–450 × 2–2.5 mm, villose to tomentose, hairs whitish. Involucre campanulate, ca. 20 × 10 mm; bracts lanceolate 3–17 × 0.5–1.5 mm, white-villose outside, imbricate, 3–4- seriate. Capitula erect, radiate, heterogamous, 30–50(–70) mm across the spreading rays. Florets bilabiate, minute purple clavate glands occasional; outer series of female florets white, tube 5–6.5 mm long, mouth white or green, staminodes 5, filamentous, outer limb rarely tinged pink below, 12–18 × 3–4 mm, inner limbs 0.5 × 0.25 mm; inner female florets white, tube 7.5–10 mm long, outer limb 2–2.5 × 1 mm, inner limbs 1–2 × 0.5 mm, staminodes 5, filamentous; disc florets hermaphrodite, white, tube 8.5–10 mm long, limbs 2.5–4 × 1.5–2 mm; anthers sagittate, tailed, yellow, pollen white. Pappus bristles barbellate, whitish. Cypselae 10–12 mm long, elliptic, 3–6-ribbed, beak 2–4 mm long, puberulous along length, hairs filiform, pointed. Chromosome number: unknown. ( Figs 1 View FIGURE 1 & 2 View FIGURE 2 ).

Biology:— Gerbera sylvicola flowers throughout the year, mainly between September and January.

Habitat:—All recorded populations occur on Natal Group Sandstone; on eastern and southern aspects at elevations of 350–1120 m. Plants form part of the understory on steeply sloping terrain, growing in the full shade of the forest. Individuals often occur in shallow soil pockets between boulders ( Fig. 2 View FIGURE 2 ), and can form large colonies. Populations sometimes occur on the ecotone between Southern Mistbelt Forest (FOz 3) and Scarp Forest (FOz 5) ( Rutherford et al. 2006), and within Scarp Forest. Associated flora includes Dracaena aletriformis ( Haworth 1831: 415) Bos (1992: 3) , Begonia sutherlandii Hooker (1868 : t. 5689), Oplismenus hirtellus ( Linnaeus 1759: 870) Palisot de Beauvois (1812: 168) and Chlorophytum comosum ( Thunberg 1794: 63) Jacques (1862: 345) .

Distribution:—Recorded from three forests in north-central KwaZulu-Natal, essentially within Zululand ( Fig. 3).

Diagnostic characters and relationships:— Gerbera sylvicola shows a unique combination of characters within the genus ( Table 1). It is one of only two South African species adapted to low light conditions on forest floors, the other being G. cordata ( Thunberg 1800: 154) Lessing (1830: 297) which is not only geographically well separated, occurring in the forests of the Eastern and Western Cape Provinces, but is placed in the separate section G. sect. Piloselloides Lessing (1830: 296) based on the scape form and cypsela characters. Although at first sight G. sylvicola appears closely related to G. cordata , it differs in possessing cypselae with shorter beaks ( Table 1), annuli lacking clubshaped hairs, and the cypsela lacking inflated, apiculate hairs ( Hansen 1990). The scapes do not widen below the head, and its leaves are pilose above and not scabrid, without rufous hairs below. Gerbera sylvicola differs from G. kraussii in its leaf base never contracting into a winged petiole, in its pappus that is whitish rather than violet-purple, and in its upper leaf surface being pilose rather than velvety pubescent. It differs from both G. ambigua and G. kraussii in its forested niche preferences: G. ambigua tolerates at most open woodland situations and G. kraussii only open grassland. Presentation by the new species of strongly raised veins below distinguishes it from Gerbera ambigua ( Hilliard 1977) . It further differs in holding the blades of its much larger leaves more or less horizontal rather than angled ( Fig. 2 View FIGURE 2 ), and in lacking underground stolons. Significantly, none of the synonyms included in G. kraussii or G. ambigua by Hilliard (1977) or Hansen (1985a) shows the combination of characters present in G. sylvicola . Particular mention is here made of G. ambigua var. cardiobasis Thellung (1923: 452) , synonymised by Hansen (1985a) with G. ambigua , an altogether smaller plant of damp coastal grasslands in Pondoland. Its leaves are more leathery, with cordate bases that are never imbricate. Further, the cypselae of G. ambigua var. cardiobasis bear a purple-violet rather than whitish pappus. These and further distinctions may be found in Table 1.

Etymology:— Sylvicola = inhabitant of the woods.


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