Haworthiopsis viscosa has small flowers that are nearly white. The plant is, however, cultivated more for the special appearance of the leaves than for its flowers. It grows easily from stem cuttings or offsets. The leaves are stacked in an unusual triangular pattern. They persist on the stems, creating a clump of roughly erect columns up to 15 cm in height. It grows naturally in the Little Karoo and further inland parts of the Great Karoo into the Eastern Cape.
There are several variations of H. viscosa, including var. major, var. minor, var. parvifolia, var. subobtusa, var. caespitosa, var. viridissima and var. quaggaensis, the earliest ones described around 1821 and many later, by different people studying these plants (Scott, 1985).
These variations are usually located in smaller areas of the plant's overall distribution. Each smaller area is then characterised by unique habitat features that trigger retention of only those new plants best suited to the specific micro-environmental conditions. The slow, continual process of becoming better adapted through offspring turns one plant species into several.
This inexorable transformation in service of survival forms part of evolution, the adaptation over generations to something better suited for meeting prevailing challenges. Thus further subdivisions may be generated continually to keep the splitters and lumpers among taxonomists busy in times to come.
The broader and narrower classes into which plants like these are grouped by scientists help the student to form ideas of the ongoing underlying processes and their causation. The evolution of biological diversity on earth is thus becoming in two ways: the sense of life-seeking change, as well as in the beauty of nature.
Ideas grow into theories that can be tested and improved upon in a secondary evolution, a man-made, thought-driven one, driven by the direction in thinking about the primary, natural evolution. This is a compelling adventure of the mind, continued learning about the survival adaptation phenomena on earth. Humanity in its search for understanding has been drawn to the exploration of how the world works and how people fit into it.
The theory of evolution is one product, albeit an extremely important one, among many human endeavours. There are always people driven by curiosity to making sense of the remaining unexplained. And once it's explained to build technologies for human capitalisation on the learning achieved.
Theories come and go, those for which confirmatory feedback is found persist, some morph into accepted principles and laws. Some world views exclude the acceptance of certain theories, irrespective of the accumulation of supporting evidence. maybe every scientific discipline has its flat earth component. Freedom of thought and expression is valuable in spite of its quirks.
This knowledge cum noise growth can never become complete. For one thing the noise sees to that. Full disclosure or breakthrough discovery to the ultimate of knowing is simply not for us. What would people do after all if they knew everything? Possibly act as they do now, for so many have the illusion of omniscience.
Humanity is too small a branch of the biological tree, too isolated and limited in understand even its own backyard, to grow a justified arrogance about its capabilities in the world. The two Voyager exploring crafts sent from earth that have progressed furthest have after years travelled about one light day from earth so far, while the closest star is more than four light years away. The exoplanets discovered beyond our solar system are many light years away, still all in our own galaxy. The distances to other galaxies and the sheer number of them are beyond our comprehension.
The species that wants to know, to see and make sense of it all is at every frontier, far and near, the yearning for discovery unquenchable. Once we know, we find a use for our knowledge and soon a series of misuses. Then follow the warnings of disasters looming and corrections, more or less in time, so far.
Carrying on the roller coaster ride of living on earth is the collective adventure of all people. Some are more involved, some are more interested. Maybe soon we go beyond earth and other frontiers like meshing minds and technologies. Many other frontiers right here, not involving space. Always forward, as long as learning stays ahead of unintended consequences.