Probable Identity of Villadia guatemalensis and Villadia levis

By Robert T. Clausen


Dr. J. N. Rose (Contr. U. S. Nat. Herb. 12: 396) described Villadia guatemalensis in 1909. The type was collected by W. R. Maxon and R. Hay near Chuacús, between Salamá and Las Canoas, Dept. of Baja Verapaz, Guatemala. The Holotype is sheet No. 473393 in the U. S. National Herbarium. The plants as originally collected were devoid of foliage and in fruiting condition. Living specimens which were brought back to Washington and cultivated there flowered in January, 1906. A dried specimen of this flowering material, probably to be regarded as a paratype, sheet No. 399685 in the U. S. National Herbarium, is shown in the accompanying photograph. This cultivated plant or plants seems to have been the primary basis for Rose's published description of the new species. Since 1905, nobody appears to have col­lected V. guatemalensis in the field. Standley and Steyermark (Fiediana: Botany, 24 (pl. 4): 415, 1946) reporled that they had seen no material of this species.



FIG. 98. Villadia guatemalensis cultivated in green-house, Ithaca, N. Y. Plant originally from Sierra de San Felipe, Oaxaca, C 6073. (X 1/5).


Also in 1909, Rose (Contr. U.S. Nat. Herb 12: 440) described Villadia levis from near Santa Catarina in Oaxaca. A photo­graph of a cultivated plant of this is shown in Rose's plate 81 anompanying the original de­scription. Study of the diagnoses of V. guatemalensis and V. levis indicates that they are similar and differ in few features. Such differences as are suggested are contrasted in the following table:



Living plants of Villadia levis have come to me from several cultivated sources. In 1943, I had the chance to collect this species myself on the lower slopes of the Sierra de San Felipe, at an altitude of about 1830 meters, in Oaxaca, about 65 km. northwest of the type locality. Plants there are too close morphologically to the type to be regarded as a separate species, but they differ from Rose's specimen in a number of ways. They are very much branched, as shown in figure 98. The leaves are only 0.56 - 1.4 cm. long, despite the vigor of the plants, as shown by the one illustrated. The petals are pale Dres­den yellow speckled above the middle with red. The number of flowers in the spicate inflorescences varies from four to twelve. Such plants expand the known variation of. V. levis. Further they resemble V. guatemalensis in all respects except in the color ot the corolla which Rose described as lemon-yellow. Since he did not indi­cate whether this color was deep or pale and since the dried specimens are so faded that they can no longer be interpreted tor this characteristic, the exact shade must be regarded as un­certain until V. guatemalensis can be recollected at its type locality. Meanwhile, that single characteristic remains as the only basis lor separating two species, that is lemon-yellow versus pale Dresden yellow speckled with red. The impor­tance of this difference is further diminished by two plants which I have grown from cuttings kindly supplied by Dr. Pacheco in 1944. These were cultivated in Guatemala City, but reported to have originated in the wild in Guatemala. Vegetatively, the two plants arc good matches of Villadia levis, but the petals are pale uranium-green and a little longer than in V. levis from Oaxaca. In all other essential details of floral structure, they are like the plants from Oaxaca.



FIG. 99. Paratype of Villadia guatemalensis Rose. (X 1/4).


The conclusion that seems to be suggested by these data is that V. guatemalensis and V. levis probably should be regarded together as a single species. Since V. guatemalensis was described two months earlier than V. levis, that name has priority. In order to summarize all my descrip­tive data, the following expanded description of the composite species has been prepared: Much branched subshrubs attaining a height of 2.7 ("5") dm.; bark of trunks and old branches gray, of younger branches reddish brown and of youngest portions of stems green; one to several axillary shoots often developing on branches, these with the leaves closely crowded in rosettes; leaves sessile, widely divergent, at right angles to stems, linear, subterete, blunt or acutish, min­utely papillose at apices and on dorsal keels, green, sometimes speckled with pink or red, 5.6 - 23 ("30") mm. long, 2.4 - 3.2 mm. wide, 1.4 - 2.8 mm. thick; flowers 3-17 in elongate, spicate cymes, 5-merous, sessile, 8 - 9 mm. in diam.; floral bracts ovate or lanceolate, 3 - 7 mm. long, 2-3 mm. wide; sepals 5, distinct, oblong, obtuse, much-thickened upwards and minutely papillose at apices, green, 3 - 3.4 mm. long, 1.2 - 1.6 mm. wide; petals connate basally for 1 - 1.4 mm. long, erect below middle, then widely spreading and even recurved, lanceolate, obtuse, minutely hooded, pale uranium-green or pale Dresden yellow speckled or blotched above middle with red, 4.2 - 6 mm. long, 1.2 - 2 mm. wide; stamens with pale greenish filaments, sometimes suffused with pink below, 1.4-3.8 mm. long, those opposite petals inserted 1-1.5 mm. above base of corolla and alternate ones 0.6- 1.2 mm. above base; nectaries broadly-reniform-spatulate, rounded, erose, orange to lemon-yellow, 0.6 - 0.7 mm. long, 0.7 - 0.8 mm. wide; pistils erect, connate basally for 0.5 mm., green, 4 - 4.6 mm. long, with styles slender, 2 mm. long; follicles suberect, 2.4 - 2.6 mm. long.


Flowers in cultivation in Washington, D. C, and Ithaca, N. Y., in January and February.


In its amplified status, V. guatemalensis is one of the few species of Crassulaceae known both from Oaxaca and Guatemala. Two species of Sedum with this type of distribution are S. dendroideum and S. batesii.


For making available the specimens of Villadia guatemalensis in the U. S. National Her­barium, I am grateful to Dr. A. C. Smith. Like­wise, I wish to express appreciation to Dr. Don Mariano Pacheco for his favor in sending me specimens frorn his private collection in Guate­mala City.


Department of Botany

Cornell University


© Cactus & Succulent Journal of America, 1951