Also Known As: Kraal aloe, Jackal's tail aloe
Category: Small to Medium Clumping Aloes
USDA Hardiness Zones: 9b - 11
OverviewWidely distributed in desert regions of southern Africa, this mid-sized, stemless, clustering Aloe is easily recognized by its upright, pale bluish leaves and the horizontally held, unbranched inflorescence with red flowers.
DescriptionAloe claviflora grows stemless or short stemmed chalky blue-grey rosettes 18” wide & high pop out babies that form a circular pattern, kind of like a camp fire ring. Plants are normally stemless but in old specimens, short stems may form which grow horizontally along the ground. Unlike other typical Aloes in arid areas, it does not have erect rosettes. Instead they face outward, giving them a characteristically asymmetric shape. The plant in itself is very tough and can survive often for several seasons without water, at which point the leaves turn a whitish color to help reflect the sun away from the plant. The leaves also close inwardly to form tough round balls that effectively protect the young leaves from heat stress. Leaves slight rough in texture, thick, stiff and brittle, and strikingly pale green to grey-green with sparse, black marginal teeth. There are also some spines along the middle of the lower surface of the leaf which extend toward the leaf apex.
FloweringAloe claviflora produces cool club shaped, orangey-coral hued 12” long flowers that attract pollinators emerge horizontally at an angle rather than upright putting on a spectacular bloomy show in Spring. The buds and young flowers are bright red but turn a yellow and whitish color as they age with time. This gives a very attractive bicolored appearance to the racemes. For some reason the blooms all point out away from the center of the cluster. Aloe claviflora produces nectar and is therefore pollinated by birds as well as winged and crawling insects such as ants which are small enough to enter the flower tube in which the nectar is stored.
Origin / HistoryAloe claviflora is found in the extremely arid areas of South Africa's interior in habitats ranging from flat stony ground, well-drained sandy expanses and raised rocky outcrops and hills. The specific epithet claviflora means club-shaped, referring to the flowers and is aptly chosen. Aloe claviflora was first recorded in Burchell's Travels in the interior of southern Africa in 1811. Populations are normally found to be healthy and may occur in quite dense stands especially in the south where they blend in well with the Namaqualand scrubland.
Care / CultivationAloe claviflora grows relatively easily in cultivation if not overwatered and is grown in a sunny spot. It’s also easy to grow in a container if your drainage isn’t great. This species is readily prone to rot if allowed to get too wet in summer, or wet AND cold in winter. Small plants that still have fat, thick leaves clustered together are particularly prone to leaf rot, so best to grow seedlings in protected pots up to a size at which point the leaves start to separate a bit.
Frost TendernessLarger plants are quite cold hardy as long as they stay dry. Reportedly unaffected by temps into the high 20s.
Use in the GardenPerfect for the dry tropical or warm temperate garden in USDA Zones 9 and above. Artificially, a smallish rock garden that provides some shelter for A. claviflora, provides the best growing conditions but only in low rainfall areas. It can easily be transplanted and grows well in containers. It is a smaller plant but unique enough to still be a specimen in a smaller garden.
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