Garden Aloes

Aloe excelsa

Also Known As: Zimbabwe Aloe, Rhodesian Tree Aloe, Noble aloe

Category: Single Head Tree Aloes

USDA Hardiness Zones: 9b - 11


Aloe excelsa is a single stemmed tree-like aloe, occurring on granite outcrops, or on steep rocky slopes, which can grow to 10-20 feet (2 - 6 m) tall. Also known as the Zimbabwe Aloe it has a solitary large rosette of succulent dull green leaves with red-brown sharp teeth on leaf margins and undersides.


The Zimbabwe Aloe is a tall aloe, sometimes reaching tree dimensions of 5–6 metres, although 3 metres is a more common height. Stem are single, up to 6m high, woody, normally covered in dried leaves except for the lowermost part. The leaves form a compact rosette of dull blue-green leaves, at the top, spreading becoming recurved and up to 1 metre long. Similar to some other aloe species, young plants have a great number of spines over their leaf surfaces. However, as they taller and less vulnerable to grazing, these brown-red teeth disappear and remain only on the leaf margins.


Aloe excelsa puts up a showy candelabra like inflorescence which grows to 4 1/2 feet tall and branched into 10 to 15 racemes in late winter through early spring. Flowers are deep crimson red to orange-red in color, and tubular in shape.

Origin / History

In its natural habitat, in southern and central Africa (Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia, it grows at up to 1 mile in altitude. The Aloe's name 'excelsa' means 'lofty' or 'high' and it refers to the height of the plant. The Zimbabwe aloe is also named for the large number of specimens found growing around the ruins of Great Zimbabwe (which was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country's Late Iron Age), where it has attracted much attention for its size and shape. Aloe excelsa has been granted tree status in South Africa and its national tree number is 28.8.

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Care / Cultivation

Aloe excelsa thrives best with ample water during its warm season, benefits from good drainage, and prefers a dry period in winter, when its impressive flowers appear. Within this plants native range, it favors localities with good drainage and moderately stable soils, such as rocky, wooded hillsides.

Frost Tenderness

It tolerates light frost during its resting (and flowering) season which occurs occasionally at its favored altitudes of 800–1600 metres.

Use in the Garden

Aloe excelsa makes an attractive addition as a specimen plant to warmer gardens that only occasionally receive a light frost. This Aloe from Mozambique has attracted the attention of gardeners and parks planners for its imposing appearance although is still rare in gardens.

Read about more Aloes that can be used as a focal points in your garden.

Learn More

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

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