Massonia saniensis Wetschnig, Mart.

Deutsch, Gerfried, Crespo, Manuel B., Dold, Anthony P. & Pfosser, Martin, 2014, Massonia saniensis (Asparagaceae, Scilloideae), a new species from Lesotho, southern Africa, Phytotaxa 173 (3), pp. 181-195: 185-191

publication ID 10.11646/phytotaxa.173.3.1

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scientific name

Massonia saniensis Wetschnig, Mart.

sp. nov.

Massonia saniensis Wetschnig, Mart.   -Azorín & M.Pinter, sp. nov. ( Figs. 3–9 View FIGURE 3 View FIGURE 4 View FIGURE 5 View FIGURE 6 View FIGURE 7 View FIGURE 8 View FIGURE 9 )

Planta herbacea perennis. Bulbus ovoideus, tunicatus, ca. 10 × 8 mm, tunicis papyraceis brunneis vestitus. Folia 2, coaetanea, decidua, elliptica, apice acuta vel rotundata breve apiculata (apiculo ca. 1 mm), 1.5−3 cm longa et 0.8−1.3 cm lata, ad solum adpressa, supra glauco-viridula, laxe pustulata   (pustulas viridulas 1−1.5 mm diam. et 0.4 mm altis, ad apicem papilla minutissima inconspicua munitas), subtus viridula. Perigonium albidum. Tubus perigonii 6.5−7.5 mm longus et 2−3 mm diam. albidus. Segmenta reflexa   , vix sigmoidea 4 mm longa et 1.9−2.1 mm lata, apice macula viridi referta. Filamenta crassiuscula, attenuata, albida, 2.5–3 (4) mm longa, in tubum brevem (0.5−1 mm altum) a basi connata. Antherae statu clauso ca. 1.5 mm longae, oblongae, cyanellae. Ovarium 1.8–2.5 mm diam. et 2.5–4 mm altum, in stylo gradualiter desinente. Capsula 4–6 mm diam. et 5–7.5 mm alta, sectione triangulari. Semina 1.8–2.3 × 1.4–1.8 mm, ellipsoidea, nigra, nitidula, ad chalazam complanata. Species notabilis combinatione unica characterum ab omnibus speciebus Massoniae differt foliis parvis, glauco-viridulis, supra minutas pustulas viridulas (omnes ad apicem papilla minutissima inconspicua munitae) laxe obsitis; segmentis perigonii reflexis vix sigmoideis; filamentis in tubo breve connatis; antheris cyanelis polline flavido; atque ovario in stylo gradualiter desinente.

Type:— LESOTHO. Sani Pass (2929 CB): Sani Top, 9400 ft. [approx. 2865 m], in silt patches over wet sheets, very common in places, 31/12/1973, O   . Hilliard 5410 (holotype, NU! Fig. 3 View FIGURE 3 ; isotypes, E, K, MO)     .

Herbaceous perennial bulbous geophyte. Roots branched, usually present for about two vegetation periods. Bulb ovoid, ca. 10 × 8 mm, inner scales fleshy and white, outer tunics papery and brownish. Leaves 2, deciduous, leaf blades opposite, spreading and appressed to the ground, 1.5−3 × 0.8−1.3 cm (up to 5 × 2 cm in cultivation), synanthous, elliptic with acute to obtuse apex, with a short apicule ca. 1 mm long, narrowed into a subterraneous petiole up to 30 mm long that clasps the inflorescence; adaxial side glaucous green with scattered dark green emergences, 64−112 per cm 2, 1− 1.5 mm in diameter, 0.4 mm high, with one very short papilla on top (visible only through the microscope); abaxial side green, smooth. Inflorescence a dense, subcapitate raceme, up to 0.5−1 cm long, with 4−12(−20) flowers, shortly overtopping ground level. Bracts membranous, green or green with a purplish flush in the upper half and white below (translucent and purplish after flowering), glabrous with entire margins; lower bracts suborbicular 12−15 × 10−11 mm; upper bracts narrowly ovate, 14−17 × 5–7 mm. Pedicels about 5 mm long. Flowers proterandrous, tubular, actinomorphic, with a “bowieoid” (smelling like the flowers of Bowiea volubilis   ) or “sperm-like” smell. Perigone white, free segments 4 × 1.9–2.1 mm, white with a greenish tip, first straight and erect, later spreading and finally reflexed with a slight sigmoid curve but not spirally curled in at the base at anthesis. Perigone-filaments tube 6.5−7.5 × 2−3 mm, cylindrical, white. Filaments white, free portions narrowly triangular, 2.5–3(4) mm long, rather fleshy and thickened, straight, suberect to spreading, connate at the base for ca. 0.5−1 mm above the perigone to form a funnel shaped, white filament tube. Anthers ca. 1.5 mm long when closed, oblong, with blue anther wall, dorsifixed. Pollen yellow. Gynoecium cenocarpous-syncarpous, narrowly obclavate, with septal nectaries; nectar colourless, sometimes yellow when aged. Ovary oblong, green, 2.5–4 × 1.8–2.5 mm, with ~8 ovules/carpel; style white, 7.5–10 × 1–1.5 mm, thick, narrowly triangular, erect, gradually tapering to the punctiform stigma, ending at about the same level as the anthers or shortly overtopping them. Capsule loculicidal, 5–7.5 × 4–6 mm, valves splitting down to the base, ovate-oblong in lateral view and trigonous in apical view. Seeds black, with a greyish overlay (epicuticular wax), somewhat glossy, 1.8–2.3 × 1.4–1.8 mm, ellipsoidal, flattened at the chalazal region, with an inclined, conical apex at the micropylar region. ( Figs. 3–9 View FIGURE 3 View FIGURE 4 View FIGURE 5 View FIGURE 6 View FIGURE 7 View FIGURE 8 View FIGURE 9 ).

Etymology:—The species is named after the famous Sani Pass connecting South Africa and Lesotho. The spectacular Sani Pass route is considered to be one of the steepest mountain passes in the world.

Biology: —Flowering time at the natural localities is spanning December and January, seeds are ripe from February to March. Massonia saniensis   and M. wittebergensis   are the only really summer-flowering Massonia species.   In cultivation in Europe they flower in June so they can be cultivated outside of a greenhouse. The high-elevation provenance of the species enables the cultivated specimens to survive European winters which makes the plant an interesting object for speciality gardeners.

Habitat: —The new species occurs at high-elevated plateaus from approximately 2700 to 3200 m above sea level. It grows in seasonally wet basaltic silt and in gravel patches over rock sheets or short damp turf covering the sheets ( Hilliard 1990). The known populations are found in vegetation classified as part of the Lesotho Highland Basalt Grassland vegetation unit (Grassland Biome; Mucina & Rutherford=2006). This region shows mainly summer rainfall with little rain in winter, with a mean annual rainfall of only 575 mm in the rain-shadow areas of the interior (e.g. Mokhotlong) and some more along the eastern edge (e.g. 928 mm at Qacha´s Nek; cf. Mucina & Rutherford 2006).

Distribution: —Known to us from Sehlabathebe, Sani Pass, Redi, Retsane and Sanqebethu rivers and Tlaeng Pass in eastern Lesotho ( Fig. 10 View FIGURE 10 ).

Taxonomic relationships: — Massonia saniensis   can be easily distinguished from all other species of the genus by the characteristic small, glaucous green leaves with scattered dark green emergences with a minute papilla on top, the reflexed perigone segments, not spirally curled in at the base at anthesis, the short filaments-tube, the blue anthers with yellow pollen, and the style gradually tapering from the ovary ( Figs. 3–9 View FIGURE 3 View FIGURE 4 View FIGURE 5 View FIGURE 6 View FIGURE 7 View FIGURE 8 View FIGURE 9 ). Its closest known relative appears to be M. wittebergensis   that shares the small leaves, reflexed perigone segments, short filaments-tube and yellow pollen, but the latter differs by the unique emergences on the upper side of the leaves bearing laterally compressed bristles, 0.3−1 mm long, usually curved and sometimes forked, and the yellow to orange anthers with purplish flush, among other characters ( Table 2). Massonia jasminiflora   differs from the new species by the much larger leaves lacking emergences, larger and spreading perigone segments, longer perigon-filaments tube and blue pollen ( Table 2).

Specimens of Massonia saniensis   have erroneously been named M. bowkeri   and M. echinata   in herbarium collections, books and on photographs published on the internet. However, M. bowkeri   has been regarded as a synonym of M. jasminiflora   based on their very similar flower and leaf morphology, and therefore, differing from M. saniensis   in the same respects. “ Massonia echinata ” sensu Müller-Doblies & Müller-Doblies (1997)   clearly differs from M. saniensis   by the longer perigone-filaments tube, the longer filaments, the strongly sigmoid and spirally curled in perigone segments, and its allopatric distribution.

In our preliminary phylogenetic studies Massonia saniensis   , M. wittebergensis   and M. jasminiflora   form a wellsupported clade within the genus Massonia   . Massonia saniensis   is sister to a clade formed by the other two species. A more complete sampling of Massonia   including a higher number of taxa and additional markers is in preparation (Wetschnig et al. in preparation).

= Lesotho; OFS = Orange Free State; ZAF = Republic of South Africa.


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