Garden Aloes

Aloe marlothii

Also Known As: Mountain Aloe, Spiny Aloe, Flat Flowered Aloe

Category: Single Head Tree Aloes

USDA Hardiness Zones: 9-11


Aloe marlothii, native to South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, and Mozambique, is one of the larger and more impressive Aloes. It is single-stemmed, and can grow up to a tree-like 15 feet tall. This striking species of aloe has an especially large robust head of stiff, grey-green leaves. The mountain aloe is without doubt one of southern Africa's most rewarding aloes to grow and adds an interesting slant to aloe culture.


This is the archetypical aloe, towering majestically, with densely prickled, large, boat-shaped leaves on a strong stem. Usually single stemmed & eventually tree like (to 15’ tall), this species starts out as a huge rosette of thick gray-green leaves well armed with brown teeth. The plant usually has a solitary, unbranched stem, though sometimes it suckers to form small groups of plants. It normally has a trunk densely covered by the withered old leaves. The leaves of the Mountain Aloe are large, of a gray-green color, with reddish-brown spines along the margins and randomly on other parts of the leaf. The large leaves have a broad base tapering to a sharp point and are up to 5 feet (1.5 m) long, up to 10 inches (25 cm) wide.


In late fall to late winter the flowers of Aloe marlothii are held on racemes on a branched candelabra-shaped inflorescence, having up to 30 racemes (single spikes covered with individual flowers). The distinctively horizontal branches of large 4 foot tall & wide inflorescence is an easy way to distinguish this species from other aloes. The rosette produces a candelabra of tubular shaped flowers. Flower color varies a great deal, and ranges from yellow through orange (most common) to bright red.

Origin / History

The Mountain Aloe is a wide-ranging species from KwaZulu-Natal into Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The plants name 'marlothii' commemorates the botanist H.W. Rudolf Marloth.

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Care / Cultivation

Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil. Requires little to no supplemental irrigation in coastal California gardens. Rich, well-drained soil is best. Fab in large containers. No Summer water required. Tolerates poor soil.

Frost Tenderness

Hardy to 20° F.

Use in the Garden

The plant is impenetrable, and often planted to form living fences. As a potted plant, very showy, long-lived and full of blunt spines.

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