Sansevieria pearsonii N.E. Br.

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Sansevieria pearsonii

Photo: Bart Wursten

Sansevieria pearsonii

Photo: Bart Wursten
Greystone Park Nature Reserve, Harare

Sansevieria pearsonii

Photo: Bart Wursten
Greystone Park Nature Reserve, Harare

Sansevieria pearsonii

Photo: Meg Coates Palgrave
South of picnic site Harava Dam

Sansevieria pearsonii

Photo: Meg Coates Palgrave
South of picnic site Harava Dam

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Synonyms: Sansevieria desertii N.E. Br.
Sansevieria rhodesiana N.E. Br.
Common names: Spiky mother-in-law's tongue (English)
Status: Native
Succulent perennial, up to 1 m, with a fan of hard, ribbed, cylindric leaves, overlapping near the base. The leaves are spine-tipped at the apex. Inflorescence a tall raceme of pinkish-brown to blue-mauve flowers, usually opening at night.
Notes: Manfred Spindler has pointed out that Sansevieria rhodesiana is sometimes regarded as a distinct species. This species was described by N.E. Brown in 1915 in Kew's Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information, no. 5. N.E. Brown wrote as follows. "This species is closely related to S. pearsonii N.E. Br. but certainly seems distinct when the living plants are placed side by side. The leaves of S. rhodesiana do not taper nearly so rapidly as those of S. pearsonii, are parallel and not diverging, more compressed, especially at the much less acute point and the dark green lines are continuous (not interrupted) and more evident than in S. pearsonii".

We have followed FZ in including S. rhodesiana under S. pearsonii, but the possible distinction should be borne in mind.
Derivation of specific name: pearsonii: after Professor Henry Harold Welch Pearson (1870-1916), British-born South African botanist, prolific plant collector, botanical explorer and founder of the Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens.
Habitat: A colony-forming species in shade of trees in dry scrub and woodland, often on termite mounds, in rocky or sandy areas.
Altitude range: 100 - 1500 m
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and northern South Africa.
Mozambique distribution: Z,T,MS,GI
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 49.

Da Silva, M.C., Izidine, S. & Amude, A.B. (2004). A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 30 Sabonet, Pretoria Page 126.

Heath, A. & Heath, R. (2009). Field Guide to the Plants of Northern Botswana including the Okavango Delta Kew Publishing Page 349. (Includes a picture).

La Croix, I. (2010). Dracaenaceae Flora Zambesiaca 13(2) Pages 31 - 33. (Includes a picture).

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 90.

Pickering, H. & Roe, E. (2009). Wild Flowers of the Victoria Falls Area Helen Pickering, London Page 59. (Includes a picture).

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 121.

Siebert, S. & Mössmer, M. (Editors) (2002). SABONET Southern Mozambique Expedition 2001; Provisional Plant Checklist of the Maputo Elephant Reserve (MER) and Licuati Forest Reserve (LFR) SABONET News 7(1) Page 25.

Other sources of information about Sansevieria pearsonii:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Sansevieria pearsonii
Flora of Caprivi: Sansevieria pearsonii
Flora of Zambia: Sansevieria pearsonii
Flora of Zimbabwe: Sansevieria pearsonii
Flora of Zimbabwe: cultivated Sansevieria pearsonii

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Sansevieria pearsonii
African Plant Database: Sansevieria pearsonii
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Sansevieria pearsonii
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Sansevieria pearsonii
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Sansevieria pearsonii
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Sansevieria pearsonii
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Sansevieria pearsonii
JSTOR Plant Science: Sansevieria pearsonii
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Sansevieria pearsonii
Plants of the World Online: Sansevieria pearsonii
Tropicos: Sansevieria pearsonii
Wikipedia: Sansevieria pearsonii

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave 2007-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Mozambique: Species information: Sansevieria pearsonii., retrieved 17 June 2024

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