Garden Aloes

Aloe erinacea

Also Known As: Goree

Category: Small to Medium Clumping Aloes

USDA Hardiness Zones: 8b - 11


Aloe erinacea is a small, clustering, slow-growing succulent from southern Namibia with rounded, ball-shaped rosettes of brownish-green leaves with particularly long, black thorns on the margins.


The plant in itself is very tough, and can often survive for several seasons without water, at which point the leaves turn reddish, a sign generally associated with stress. The plant is compact, stemless, and almost never offsets (in cultivation), but in habitat it occurs in clusters of up to 10 or more decumbent stems up to 50 cm tall, covered with old leaves bases. This plant is characterized by its stiff, unbending, upright, turquoise to sea-green leaves heavily armed with white spines, sometimes tipped with black on not only the leaf margins but along the center of the back of each leaf. The leaves are narrowly triangular, up to 10 inches (25 cm) long and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) wide at the base. Very attractive species, but also very hardwired for winter rainfall. In cultivation the plant seems to remain exactly the same size for years.


During the winter Aloe erinacea produces flowers on solitary, usually unbranched stalks and only about a foot high or less. The flowers are tubular in shape, bright red in bud, but turn yellow after opening. Aloe erinacea 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. It is also very slow to flower, and it's even rare in its native land for it to flower.

Origin / History

Aloe erinacea is found growing in very arid areas in rocky and sandy soils on the northern hills and mountains of southwestern Namibia at 900 - 1350 m. in altitude. Only recently (botanically) discovered in the mid 1980's in Namibia, it seems strange that such an impressive plant could have remained unknown for so long. Aloe erinacea is considered endangered in habitat but reasonably common in cultivation where seeds can be produced by hand pollination.

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Care / Cultivation

Aloe erinacea is one of the slowest growing specie and quite difficult to care for out of habitat. This plant does well in direct sun but needs excellent drainage and does not like intense summer heat. Light fertilizer seems to boost its growth whenever additional water is given. Aloe erinaceas growing outdoors in California, unless in a great microclimate, seem predisposed to decline eventually (rotting slowly from the bottom up).

Frost Tenderness

It's fairly cold tolerant, for an aloe.

Use in the Garden

It does well planted in the ground, but it is rarely grown outdoors since large plants are costly. This plant is really best for pot culture due to its smaller size and 'waste' as a landscape plant. Makes a wonderful, drought tolerant ornamental for warm temperate climates in USDA Zones 9 and above.

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The information on this page about Aloe erinacea has been gathered and summarized from the sources below. Visit these pages to learn more.

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