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Published: 2021-02-05

Sansevieria pfennigii (Ruscaceae, Asparagales): Confirmation of existence, emendation of description, and tentative threat assessment

Potsdam University, Botanical Garden, Maulbeerallee 3, D-14469 Potsdam, Germany.
Potsdam University, Botanical Garden, Maulbeerallee 3, D-14469 Potsdam, Germany.
Ruscaceae Asparagales Monocots


Sansevieria pfennigii, which to date has been a doubtful species, is confirmed as extant by a recent collection from the Lindi Region in southern Tanzania. The original description of the species, which is based on herbarium material only, is here emended based on additional observations recorded from living plants, including fruits that were previously unknown. Sansevieria pfennigii distinguishes from S. canaliculata, to which it was repeatedly assigned, by its capitate instead of elongate inflorescence, rough rather than smooth leaves, non-pungent instead of pungent leaf tips, dull green leaf colour, more delicate overall appearance, alongside other traits. The difference in inflorescence architecture indicates that these species belong to different groups within Sansevieria and are not closely related; the closest relatives of S. pfennigii are probably S. fischeri and S. stuckyi. Sansevieria pfennigii occurs on well-drained soil in forests, close to S. canaliculata populations. According to the extent of the population seen and the species’ overall rarity, it is tentatively assessed as critically endangered.