Tulista pumila, previously known as Haworthia maxima, is commonly referred to as the seepaalwyn (soap aloe) in Afrikaans. It is not an Aloe, but there is a resemblance. A limited stay in the Haworthia genus has now also been terminated in favour of Tulista, still forming part of the Asphodelaceae family as do the aloes and haworthias.
Traditional human communities living in the area where these plants grow have long used the leaves as a soap by removing the leaf skin and mashing the inside parts.
Another Afrikaans common name, vratjiesaalwyn (little warts aloe) or vratjiesaalwee, is derived from the conspicuous greenish-white tubercles on the leaf surfaces. On some plants the tubercles only occur on the outer surfaces of the leaves. The variability in size and shape of the tubercles can be observed in the photo.
Tulista pumila is not endangered, but currently heavily harvested (www.redlist.sanbi.org; www.plantzafrica.com).
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