Also Known As: Aloidendron ramosissimum, Aloe ramosissima, Maiden’s Quiver Tree
Category: Branching Aloes
USDA Hardiness Zones: 9b - 11
OverviewAloe ramosissima is a larger Aloe to about 3 meters (9+ feet) tall with heavily branching, smooth stems and small crowns of narrow, glaucous leaves. This Aloe is from the winter rainfall area of Southern Africa's Namib Desert and occur in very arid, rocky places on hills and mountains. A well grown plant is among some of the most magnificent and ornamental of the 'tree-like' aloes.
DescriptionIt is a slow growing tree (shrub) type aloe known for its many branches and smooth, white stems, and without a doubt the most profusely branched of all aloes. The trunk is normally very short smooth and covered with strips of satiny, waxy, powdery silver-pink-brown colored bark, which acts as a sunscreen in the harsh climate. Branching continues as the plant becomes older, resulting in a dense, almost spherical shrub. The fleshy leaves and stems act as water reservoirs in times of drought and the grey powder on the stems reflect intense heat away from the plant. Aloe ramosissima are two to three meters in height with smooth stems terminate in small rosettes of leaves. Fleshy, oblong leaves, each up to 8 inches long and ¾ inch wide at their base make up the rosettes. Sometimes the leaves can manifest pink tinges, and the green color can become more or less yellowish depending on the exposure to the plant to direct sunlight. The margins have narrow edges with small brownish teeth; base encircling the stem. Other than this low branching habit and usually smaller leaf size, it is virtually identical to Aloe dichotoma, and some consider it a subspecies of A. dichotoma. They are long lived plants and once established, they will be content in their position and with their soil for years. Winter grower.
FloweringThe inflorescences of Aloe ramosissima are short and sparsely branched with fairly large, tubular yellow flowers. The bright yellow flowers produce nectar which are generally pollinated by bees and ants. When capsules dry out, the winged seeds are carried by the wind, often landing in bushes where they germinate, making full use of the shelter and shade. Aloe ramosissima blooms in winter but the first flowers won't be produced util plants are about 10 to 15 old.
Origin / HistoryAloe ramosissima, now called Aloidendron ramosissimum, is an endemic species to the border region between South Africa and Namibia. This plant’s habitat are very arid, rocky places, like ravines or desert slopes. They rely on winter rains that average around 110 mm or less per annum. It is not at all uncommon in this area for summer temperatures to rise to 46º C and years may pass before any rain falls. This species is considered vulnerable, because its habitat is threatened by mining and overgrazing. The name 'ramosissima' means highly branched. Native to South Africa, the branches of this plant were used to make small quivers by young men who then gave these quivers to young ladies as a sign of their affection. Aloe ramosissima's South African national tree number is 30.2. Aloe ramosissima is a rare and endangered species in habitat.
Care / CultivationThis is one of the aloes that sometimes can resent excessive summer watering ,and much prefers to get its water in winter (potted plants are particularly prone to rot if watered in summers). Aloe ramosissima requires a well-drained sandy soil to prevent roots rotting. Pay attention not to wet the leaves while watering, because they are also sensitive to rotting. Before each watering, it’s better to wait until the soil is completely dry.
Frost TendernessAloe ramosissima is hardy to 28°F (-1°C) but to avoid damage it's better to protect it if you keep it outdoors, or move it indoors if you keep it in a pot.
Use in the GardenPerfect for the dry tropical or warm temperate garden in USDA Zones 9 and above. In mild climates, Aloe ramosissima is useful as a specimen plant in a rock desert gardens. It is also suitable a large container grown houseplant in a bright location. Put in a pot and correctly pruned, this plant become really interesting as an ornamental plant for indoors spaces. Once established this plant is drought tolerant.
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