Astroloba smutsiana


Astroloba smutsiana, Wittepoort
Astroloba smutsiana Roberts Reinecke 
by Jakub Jilemicky and Steven Molteno

smutsiana: from the Smuts Memorial Foundation, whose grants assisted in the study of Astroloba

To a beginner, this little species might seem like the “vanilla” of Astrolobas - without any of the more extreme characteristics which differentiate the outlying species. But this is unfair to a species which is both variable, unique and beautiful in its own right. It has no tubercles and its leaf points are truly marginate. It is relatively central in the genus, in terms of characteristics, if not geographically. 


Astroloba smutsiana, near Ladismith
It is also difficult to recognise and distinguish from its relatives. When not in flower it is easily confused with Astroloba spiralis – its close relative to the East. However the two are genetically distinct and the rugose, inflated flower of spiralis is also unique. Its flowers resemble most those of Astroloba corrugata – its asperous neighbour to the South-West, but the two are entirely distinct in vegetative appearance. It also transitions gradually into Astroloba hallii – its neighbour to the North. The plants tend to be more striped in the North, as the species transitions into hallii. There are minute, striped forms in Drielingskloof, and forms with beautiful straight, compact leaves in far West of its range (near Joubertskop). 

Distribution map
It flowers around the end of summer – roughly from January to March. Its inflorescence is usually unbranched and bears tiny cream flowers.
Its distribution is relatively central among the Astrolobas, occurring from the Rooinek pass (south of Laingsburg) in the North; to near Ladismith and as far North as near Warmwaterberg. In localities, where it shares the habitat with Astroloba corrugata,
natural hybrids of both of the species were reported.


Astroloba smutsiana, near Anysberg
In cultivation it requires the same well-drained soil as all Astrolobas. Although it can be adjusted to full sun, it prefers some shelter. 

Known localities:


  • W of Drielingskloof (3320B)
  • Wagensdrift, S of Laingsburg (3320B)
  • Wittepoort, near Joubertskop (3320BD)
  • Wolverfontein, S. Touwsberg (3320D)
  • Floriskraal Dam (3320B)
  • SW Ladismith, near crsrd. Barrydale-Ladismith-Riversdale
  • SW of Touws river, S of Wolwefontein (3320D)
  • Driefontein, E of Rooinek Pass (3320B)
  • Keurfontein (3320B)
  • Paardenfontein
  • Swartkop, N of Warmwaterberge 
Astroloba smutsiana, Wittepoort
Astroloba smutsiana, Wittepoort
Astroloba smutsiana, Wittepoort
Astroloba smutsiana, Wittepoort
Astroloba smutsiana, Wittepoort
Locality of A. smutsiana, Wittepoort
Astroloba smutsiana, Wolverfontein
Astroloba smutsiana, Wolverfontein
Locality of A. smutsiana, Wolverfontein
Astroloba smutsiana, Wagensdrift
Astroloba smutsiana, Wagensdrift
Astroloba smutsiana, Rooinek Pass
Astroloba smutsiana, Rooinek Pass
Locality of A. smutsiana, Rooinek Pass
Astroloba smutsiana / hallii, Floriskraal Dam
Astroloba smutsiana / hallii, Floriskraal Dam
Astroloba smutsiana, W. Drielingskloof
Astroloba smutsiana, W. Drielingskloof
Locality of A. smutsiana, W. Drielingskloof
Astroloba smutsiana, Drielingskloof, photo Steven Molteno
Astroloba smutsiana, Drielingskloof, photo Steven Molteno
Astroloba smutsiana, Drielingskloof, photo Steven Molteno
Astroloba smutsiana, Drielingskloof, photo Steven Molteno

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