Also Known As: Kenyan Aloe
Category: Large Clumping Aloes
USDA Hardiness Zones: 9b - 11
OverviewAloe kedongensis is a medium-large sized, Kenyan aloe with bright green, narrow, toothy, somewhat recurved leaves and multiple tall, thin stems. The Kenyan Aloe is a suckering, spreading shrub up to about six feet tall that is often used in gardens as a low barrier or hedge plant.
DescriptionAloe kedongensis branches from the base to form thick clumps of stems, each up to 4 meters long, and either erect or sprawling on the ground. Foliage color and density gives plant a more lush presence than many aloes. The stems lie over and the plant can spread laterally to form large clumps. Each stem is topped by a rosette of leaves. The slender leaves in mature plants are recurved and without any markings. Sometimes confused with Aloe arborescens in cultivation, but slightly less robust and shorter shrubs, with smaller leaves and more narrowly, upright-oriented rosettes. In the wild, the plant develops an extremely large trunk and root system.
FloweringAloe kedongensis salmon-orange flowers that appear on mostly simple (unbranched) spikes in late winter and spring. The inflorescence is 50 cm (20 inch) tall. This aloe's racemes are conical to globoid in shape. The tips of the tubular flower lobes curve outwards.
Origin / HistoryFrom the Kedong Valley, part of the Great Rift Valley system of Kenya, Aloe kedongensis is one of a group of closely related tetraploid aloes that all grow near each other in East Africa and share a recent common ancestor. The other aloes in this group are Aloe cheranganiensis, Aloe dawei, Aloe elgonica, and Aloe nyeriensis. The plant name refers to this plant being from the Kedong Valley, which was the site of an tragic massacre in 1895 involving tribal Swahili and Maasai with misinterpreted intervention by the British Army. This plant was first described by Gilbert Westacott Reynolds (1895-1967) in the Journal of South African Botany (v19 n4) in 1953. The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine, source of dyes and as an aid to fermentation.
Care / CultivationFast growing plant that does well in both full sun and fairly deep shade. Irrigate only occasionally.
Frost TendernessReportedly Hardy to mid to upper 20's F. Lower temperatures may damage Aloe kedongensis but the plant recovers quickly from the roots.
Use in the GardenExcellent dry border, ornamental background or is sometimes grown as a live fence or barrier planting. Also nice in succulent, cactus and rock and xeriscape gardens. Flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies and nectar-loving birds. This aloe is a strong grower and needs some space in the garden.
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