Also Known As: Betsileo Aloe
Category: Small to Medium Clumping Aloes
USDA Hardiness Zones: 10a - 11
OverviewAloe betsileensis - A lovely Madagascan aloe which is mid-sized and nearly stemless with an open rosette of upwardly-growing 8 to 16 inch long-lance shaped leaves. A stunning plant with up to 50 pale blue leaves that have a pink tinge when older and are armed with reddish thorns along their margins.
DescriptionAloe betsileensis grows up looking a lot like Aloe conifera though two to three times larger, otherwise differs mainly in floral details. Flowers tend to be more branched and start out orange before opening yellow. This plant is a solitary nearly stemless Aloe, growing to about 3ft wide and about 2ft tall. Eventually develops a large rosette up to 2.5 feet across with dozens of leaves that vary in color depending up the season. The leaves have a nice green/purple/blue color with striking red teeth along the edges. Upper leaf surface is dull green with reddish tinge, without spots or markings. In full sun it takes on some nice purple tones.
FloweringFlowers in winter are yellow are either solitary or have 1 or 2 branches that stand well above the leaves and hold many densely set, yellow flowers. Racemes are tight cylinders of very closely spaced flowers almost like on a corn cob.
Origin / HistoryAloe betsileensis comes from a wide area of the south-central highlands of Madagascar, where it can be found growing on rocky slopes between 2,500 and 4,600 feet in elevation. It was named by the French botanist most commonly associated with the flora of Madagascar, Joseph Marie Henry Alfred Perrier de la Bâthie (1873-1958) in 1926 with the name coming from the Betsileo, the region and name of of the highland ethnic group of Madagascar.
Care / CultivationPlant in full sun in a well-drained soil and irrigate occasionally to very little - though it comes from a more summer rainfall area this plant has proven adaptable and drought tolerant in our mediterranean climate and tolerates temperatures at least to 28° F without noticeable damage.
Frost TendernessReportedly no damage down to 24F
Use in the GardenAs a landscape specimen it is preferable to the closely related and more common Aloe conifera because of its size, red teeth and flowers that are not hidden behind the bracts.
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