Garden Aloes

Aloe mitriformis

Also Known As: Aloe perfoliata, Kransaalwyn, Mitre Aloe, Rubble Aloe

Category: Red Aloes

USDA Hardiness Zones: 9b - 11


Aloe mitriformis is a true Cape mountain and winter-rainfall species that has thick, short leaves that are arranged in a rosette style with short barbs along the outer edges and beautiful flowers.


Aloe mitriformis is a hardy clustering succulent forming groups of rosettes in small colonies. The stems are fairly thin and not strong enough to support the large rosettes in an erect position. These typically lie along the ground with only the terminal, leaf-bearing portion being erect.The leaves, are arranged in rosettes (circular leaf attachments), may spread erectly or curve inward. The thick, fleshy leaves often curve inwards during times of drought – making the rosette look rather like a mitre (until recently this species was known as Aloe mitriformis because of this resemblance). The leaves are short, fleshy, bluish-green in color and broad in a rosette and are edged in sturdy teeth. Plants that are in full sun often have more bluish leaves than those that are in shady areas which have more dark green leaves. Also, plants that are fully exposed have a tighter leaf arrangements compared to the more spaced leaves on shaded specimens. The leaf margins are armed with harmless, small white teeth, which turn yellow to dark brown as leaves become older. The slightly incurved leaves and variably colored marginal spines appear to be consistent features of the species. During dry conditions, the leaves assume a red color. The yellow teeth along the edges contrast nicely with the deep green of the leaves. In its natural habitat, the plants have long and creeping stems that often have secondary side shoots along their length. Aloe mitriformis occurs mostly in groups and also may grow down vertical cliffs is a particularly fast-growing, tough and adaptable species that easily copes with the elements. A. mitriformis is one of seven aloes with distinctive creeping stems. The Rubble Aloe is extremely variable-looking, depending on its environment, making it difficult to identify sometimes. The stems of this succulent aloe trail along the ground, often rooting where they touch down.


There are not many aloes from the Cape that flower during summer, hence those that do are more sought after. In a single plant there can be 4-5 inflorescences bearing dense racemes of red, tubular, 3-4 centimeters long flowers. The shape of the racemes varies from cone-shaped to head-shaped or rounded. The flowers are tubular, droop, are a coral to bright red and appear in dense arrangements on the branched stalks.

Origin / History

Aloe mitriformis is now known as Aloe perfoliata. Aloe mitriformis is found in abundance in almost all the mountainous parts of the Western Cape of South Africa. It prefers flat, rocky places although it is not uncommon on vertical cliff faces. Plants are found characteristically among rubble-like sandstone slabs and rock, hence the other unofficial Afrikaans common name, puin aalwyn, meaning rubble aloe. Aloe mitriformis is so named because of the resemblance of its rosette to a mitre or bishop's cap especially in times of drought. This species is the most widespread of a group of closely related 'Creeping Aloes'. It is noteworthy that five of the seven creeping aloes are threatened in one or the other way.

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Care / Cultivation

Aloe mitriformis has a preference for well-drained, sandy soils with a slight acidic pH and low humus level. The plants favour mild to hot summers and easily survive occasional snow in the rainy season. For optimal flowering, remember to plant A. mitriformis in the full sun. Mature plants in the garden may from time to time be subjected to attack from scale insects and aphids. For scale insects, an oil-based solution can be used, even soap water has proven effective against scale and the best results are obtained by physically removing scale using a cloth. All known garden pests can be kept to a minimum by simply ensuring optimal growing conditions and a good selection of plants that attract wildlife to your garden. Coming from a sub-tropical climate of South Africa and the Mediterranean regions, Aloe mitriformis is used to a dry, sunny location and it will grow best in full sun. Aloe mitriformis grows relatively slowly to a height and spread of about 18 inches. Drought tolerant. Water sparingly, especially during winter. Blackened patches on the leaves are signs of over-watering. It can be grown successfully outdoors in temperate climates during the summer months but will need to be brought inside during cold weather. Before each watering, it’s better to wait until the soil is completely dry.

Frost Tenderness

It will survive as low as 5 degrees C, but if you live in a temperature climate, it is best brought in during the winter months.

Use in the Garden

Aloe mitriformis is ideally planted in a group of ± 20 plants. Raised rock gardens that allow good drainage are the best situations for these plants. For smaller gardens the plants can be used in deep plant boxes or they also go well in larger pots where they will spill over to make interesting shapes, though not good to have where there is foot traffic close-by as the foliage is quite spiky. Embankments and retaining walls are also perfect, as the pants will naturally tend to creep and can cover large areas especially if you have a difficult or unsightly spot in the garden. This plant is particularly fast-growing and it’s a groundcover. This spreading aloe is one of the lower growing species and is therefore often used as a ground cover plant in rock gardens. Gardeners who love using bright reds, oranges and yellows will find this particular aloe quite irresistible.

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