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Plant Highlight: Haworthia cooperi

February 2013

Haworthia is a genus of small succulents closely related to Aloe.  The great majority of them are native to South Africa.  There is considerable variation in their leaves, but their flowers are all quite similar.  The slender flower stalk bears small white or off-white blossoms, often with green or brownish striping.  The flowers are tubular in form, with the six petals curling outward at the tips.

Haworthia cooperi is a species with a wide distribution in the southeastern part of South Africa, growing mostly in open dry grasslands.  Leaf translucence is common in Haworthia, and is part of their appeal to collectors.  This is a prominent feature of the group known as the retuse haworthias, but many other species also have translucent spots or streaks, especially at the leaf tips as is the case with H. cooperi.  This species clusters prolifically (more so in cultivation than in nature) to form a small mound consisting of tight heads of in-curved triangular tapering leaves.  Along the leaf margins there are tiny bristly teeth, though some forms of the species lack these.  Depending on the population and the growing conditions, a mature head ranges from about 1½ to 3 inches across (4 to 8 cm).