Garden Aloes

South African Aloes

Here is a list of 62 South African Aloes that grow in one or more of the following places: south africa, lesotho, angola, zambia, malawi, zimbabwe, mozambique, nambia, swaziland, botswana

Aloe aculeata

The name 'aculeata' means prickly and refers to the presence of the many tuberculate spines on the leaf surfaces. It is found at altitudes ranging from 500 to 1 700 m, in rocky areas. Aloe aculeata is naturally distributed throughout certain parts of the Limpopo Province, as well as the extreme northern regions of Mpumalanga. Towards the north, the distribution extends into Zimbabwe. read more

Aloe thraskii

This plant comes from sand dunes along the east coast of South Africa and is best grown in coastal areas. These plants are naturally found along the coast in a very narrow strip, never more than a few hundred metres from the sea. They are always found in groups in the coastal thicket, often as part of the ground layer or sometime in clearings and rocky places. This South African native named by John Gilbert Baker (1834-1920) in 1880 was named for a Mr Thrask, of whom nothing beside his name is known. Aloe thraskii is classed as Near Threatened in its natural habitat due to habitat loss from urban and coastal development and illegal collecting for the specialist succulent horticultural trade. It can also be confused with Aloe vanballenii when young, and Aloes angelica and Aloes alooides as mature plant. It has been given tree status in South Africa. read more

Aloe affinis

The name 'affinis', meaning 'related to' or 'resembling' comes from this plant's relationship to other maculate or spotted aloes, although A. affinis has larger leaves, is unspotted and, unlike much of this group, remains mostly solitary. This aloe is found amongst bushes, grassy slopes, open areas, rocky sandstone, quartzite patches in the summer rainfall areas of the eastern Transvaal (Swaiziland north to Marieps Mountain) where it grows with shrubs and grasses on rocky slopes between 3000-4000 feet where it experiences moderate to warm summer temperatures and light frosts in winter. read more

Aloe africana

Aloe africana is native to the summer moist coastal Eastern Cape in South Africa where it grows within thickets of shrubs from sea level to nearly 1,000 feet in elevation. It was described in 1768 by the Scottish botanist Philip Miller, who was also the chief gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden. It was grown in Europe prior to when many other aloes were described and before Linnaeus establishing the binominal classification system we currently use. The specific epithet that Miller gave it is simply in reference its African origins. The common name Uitenhage Aloe used in South Africa comes from a locality, the Uitenhage District, where this plant is plentiful. The climate is moderate, without frost, and hot and humid during summers. Aloe africana is restricted to the southeastern and southwestern part of South Africa, in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape, and is particularly common near Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and the lower Gamtoos River. It often grows in association with Aloe ferox, A. pluridens and A. speciosa, and hybrids are not uncommon. read more

Aloe alooides

Ironically the specie name 'alooides' means 'resembling an aloe' because it was originally in a different genus. The common Afrikaans name is Graskopaalwyn which means Grass Head Aloe when directly translated. It comes from a very restricted habitat in the mountains of Mpumalanga Province in South Africa, growing from 4000-6000 feet in altitude, in shallow soil on dolomite ridges. Although range restricted, the species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat. read more

Aloe andongensis

From Pungo Andongo in the Cuanzo Norte district of Angola. read more

Aloe angelica

Aloe angelica, aka williespoort Aloe, is restricted to the Soutpansberg and Blouberg mountains in Northern Province region of South Africa. Aloe angelica has been granted tree status in South Africa and it's national tree number is 28.4 read more

Aloe branddraaiensis

Aloe branddraaiensis is native to the grass and bushland of the Northern Province and Mpumalanga, South Africa. The ending “ensis” means “coming from”, and this aloe comes from the area around Branddraai, South Africa. It has a very restricted range, but is quite common in that area and north to the Olifants River. read more

Aloe brevifolia

This plant has a restricted natural distribution on dry clay soil in mild winter rainfall areas near the coast and up to 500 feet in elevation in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Its natural habitat is critically endangered because of the areas transformation to agriculture. The name 'brevifolia' means 'short-leaf' in Latin. read more

Aloe broomii

It is found on rocky slopes in hilly parts of the central interior of southern Africa at altitudes of 1000-2000 m, from the top of the southern escarpment near Beaufort West in the Northern Cape, to near Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape to the Free State in the north, and in Lesotho. Aloe broomii was collected by Dr R. Broom in 1905 at Pampoenpoort, which is between Carnarvon and Victoria West, so this wonderful species was named after the man who was the first to collect it. It earned the common name snake aloe because of its long, slender, snake-like inflorescence. Aloe broomii is depicted in 250-year old rock paintings in South Africa. read more

Aloe buhrii

Aloe buhrii comes from a restricted range on hilltops from 3,300 to 5,000 feet in elevation in the Calvinia district of the dry western Karoo in Northern Cape Province of South Africa. It was first described by John Lavranos in 1971, who named it after Elias Buhr, the South African farmer who first collected it. It is listed as Endangered in South Africa because of its restricted distribution. read more

Aloe burgersfortensis

Aloe Burgersfortensis was originally found near the town of Burgersfort, in Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. Described by Gilbert Westacott Reynolds in 1936. read more

Aloe cameronii

It was first discovered in the central African country of Nyasaland (now Malawi) by Kenneth J. Cameron, an employee of the African Lakes Corporation, who first sent it to the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew in 1854 but was not described until it flowered there in 1903 when William Botting Hemsley (1843-1924), longtime gardener and keeper at Kew, was able to fully describe it though the original collection data was lost or not recorded. read more

Aloe castanea

It is a native of South Africa, and more specifically of what used to be called the Northern Province of South Africa which is now called Limpopo. The specific epithet 'castanea' is the Latin word for 'chestnut' in reference to this aloe's brownish colored flowers. read more

Aloe chabaudii

Named after John A. Chabaud, an enthusiastic amateur gardener in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in whose garden the original specimens flowered. Aloe chabuadii can be found in the Northern Province, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa. It extends into Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Swasiland. The common name sometimes given this plant is Dwala Aloe for its typical habitat - a dwala is a word used to describe a large unbroken dome of granite in Zimbabwe but it is also called Chabaud's Aloe. read more

Aloe ciliaris

While Aloiampelos ciliaris was originally indigenous to the dry thicket vegetation of the South African Eastern Cape, this adaptable species has been widely introduced and currently occurs across much of South Africa. The name 'ciliaris' pertains to its marginal teeth arranged like an eyelash and extending right around the base of the leaf. Aloe ciliaris var. ciliaris was first collected in 1813 in the Port Alfred District by William John Burchell (1781-1863), a British explorer and naturalist, and was named by the British botanist Adrian Hardy Haworth (1767-1833) in 1825. Introduced into cultivation in 1821 by Kew botanist and plant collector James Bowie (1789-1869). It was introduced into cultivation in Santa Barbara, California in 1908 by Dr. Francesco Franceschi. read more

Aloe claviflora

Aloe claviflora is found in the extremely arid areas of South Africa's interior in habitats ranging from flat stony ground, well-drained sandy expanses and raised rocky outcrops and hills. The specific epithet claviflora means club-shaped, referring to the flowers and is aptly chosen. Aloe claviflora was first recorded in Burchell's Travels in the interior of southern Africa in 1811. Populations are normally found to be healthy and may occur in quite dense stands especially in the south where they blend in well with the Namaqualand scrubland. read more

Aloe comptonii

Native to South Africa. Aloe comptonii was named after the second director of the National botanical gardens of South Africa, Professor R.H. Compton. Aloe comptonii has a large distribution area, from Montague in the Western Cape to Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape. read more

Aloe cooperi

Aloe cooperi hails from the dry, open grasslands in the Natal Mountains of South Africa where it was discovered in 1860. The leaves and flowers are eaten by the Zulu people. It is also used traditionally to ease birth. Both the young shoots and flowers are edible and considered a delicacy where they grow wild. read more

Aloe dichotoma

The name, 'dichotoma', means 'divided in two' and refers to the way the branches divide, repeatedly forking in two. It occurs in desert and semi-desert rocky areas where it receives rainfall, if at all, in the winter. Aloidendron dichotomum mostly occurs in black rock formations (called 'ysterklip') which absorbs a lot of heat during the hot summer. The English name, Quiver tree, refers to the use of its hollowed branches by the San people to make quivers for their arrows. The tree is said to hold the spirits of people who have died without proper burial. This species is a conspicuous component of the arid parts generally known as Namaqualand and Bushmanland. The roots are made into a tea for treating asthma, cough and TB. read more

Aloe esculenta

Aloe esculenta is Angolan native with one recorded locality in Zambia at Sioma in the early 1990s but it has not been seen recently. It is likely that collectors have depleted the population. read more

Aloe excelsa

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. read more

Aloe ferox

The Cape Aloe has a wide distribution throughout the Cape Region of South Africa and occupies a wide range of habitats. read more

Aloe globuligemma

It comes from the warm low bush-veld in Mpumalanga in northern South Africa through Limpopo into Zimbabwe. The specific epithet 'globuligemma' is latin for 'globular bud, in reference to the shape of the bud. The Africaans name Knoppiesaalwyn has a similar meaning. read more

Aloe 'Hellskloof Bells'

In the summer of 1991, Brian Kemble of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, created this uncommon hybrid of two species from South Africa's Mediterranean climate. The seed parent was the red-flowered form of A. pearsonii from an area called Helskloof in the mountainous Richtersveld of the Northern Cape province of South Africa, a species many find difficult to grow and flower. The pollen parent was the related A. distans, an easier species from the coast with more freely produced, larger heads of flowers. The cross made of these two geographically separated species resulted in a several similar hybrid plants that were distributed and this one was later named by John Trager at the Huntington Botanic Garden. read more

Aloe 'Hercules'

Aloe 'Hercules' is a popular hybrid between two tree aloe's - Aloe dichotoma and Aloe barberae. This naturally occurring plant from Mozambique has smaller narrower pale green leaves and much thinner stems. read more

Aloe hereroensis

Aloe hereroensis is a Namibian aloe primarily, but present in several southern African countries from Angola to South Africa, often found in rocky and sandy soils in dry areas. The name 'hereroensis' refers to the presence of this plant in the regions inhabited by the Hereros people a tribe in the Bantu group, who live in Namibia, Botswana and Angola. In their language the common name for the plant is 'Sandaalwyn' which translates to 'Sand Aloe'. A. hereroensis usually grows in very alkaline soils or sometimes on quartzite in high summer rainfall areas. read more

Aloe humilis

The specie name 'humilis' means 'low growing' and refers to the plants growth habit. Aloe humilis comes from arid areas from Mosselbay in the east through the Little Karoo to Grahamstown in the west and north to Somerset East and Graaf-Reinett. It has gone under many different names including Aloe subtuberculata, Aloe suberecta, Aloe tuberculata, Aloe incurva, Aloe acuminata, Catevala humilis, Aloe perfoliata var. humilis and Aloe echinata and is similar to (when not in flower) and confused with the slightly larger and harder to grow Aloe longistyla. read more

Aloe khamiesensis

This aloe has a fairly restricted distribution in the mountainous areas of Namaqualand and from near Calvinia in the Northern Cape of South Africa on mostly granite and sandstone derived soils. The plant's name refers to the Khamiesberg and Khamieskroon locations where this aloe was originally collected. Other common names for this plant include Tweederly, Aloeboom (meaning Aloe Tree) and Wilde-aalwyn (meaning Wild Aloe). It’s considered a threatened species.The number of individuals has started to decrease because of uncontrolled collection. read more

Aloe krapohliana

Aloe krapohliana is found on sandy flats and rocky slopes in the arid, northwestern corner of the Northern Cape otherwise known as the Succulent Karoo. The name krapohliana was given in honour of Mr H.C. Krapohl who first collected the plants near Pella in the early 1800s. Summers are hot and arid and the rainfall in winter is very low, they are usually found under bushes plant in shade. Aloe krapohliana is vulnerable due to overgrazing, collecting and mining activities. read more

Aloe lineata var. muirii

Native to South Africa in the Eastern Cape and the Little Karoo, from Ladismith and Riversdale to the Outeniqua Mountains in the Western Cape. The plant name 'lineata' means 'marked with parallel lines' and it refers to the lines that are present on the leaves. This variety is named after Dr John Muir (1874–1947), a Scottish plant collector, who discovered many new species of South African flora. read more

Aloe longistyla

Aloe longistyla is mostly in the summer rainfall regions from the Western Cape Province of South Africa, with some overlap into the Eastern Cape. Populations are found as scattered individuals, never in dense groups and often partly shaded by short, scrubby vegetation predominantly of Pentzia, Pteronia and Nestlera species. The plant name 'longistyla' refers to the 'long style' of the exceptionally long stamens which protrude from the mouth of the flower. Aloe longistyla is stated as vulnerable. read more

Aloe maculata

This plant has long been in cultivation under the name Aloe saponaria but the correct name is now Aloe maculata. The specific name of saponaria is from the use of this plant for soap in its native South Africa. It has been suggested by some botanists that the better-known and long-used name, Aloe saponaria, be conserved as it is the name for the type plant for the section Saponariae. They occur in a variety of habitats, ranging from rocky outcrops to thicket and grasslands. Aloe maculata has a wide distribution from the Cape Peninsula through the Western and Eastern Cape Province. Plants usually prefer the milder coastal climates but are also found as a component of the higher altitude Drakensberg flora. read more

Aloe marlothii

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. read more

Aloe mawii

This species is from east-central Africa, centered on Malawi and extending northwards and southwards where it grows on grassy rocky slopes at altitudes between 1,800 and 6,000 feet. The plant name honors Captain A.H. Maw, on whose property in Malawi the type specimen was collected. read more

Aloe microstigma

Aloe microstigma is common in the Eastern and Western Cape Provinces of South Africa, and the species extends northward through the Great Karoo into southern Namibia. The name accurately describes the distinguishing feature of the plant, microstigma means 'very small spot'. It is found in a wide variety of habitats, in flat open areas, steep rocky slopes, or amongst bushes. Where Aloe microstigma grows, it is almost invisible between rocks and dry bushes. read more

Aloe mitriformis

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. read more

Aloe mudenensis

Aloe mudenensis, from the area near the town of Muden in the state of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. read more

Aloe munchii

This species, allied to the more southerly Aloe arborescens, comes from both sides of the Chimanimani Mountains which defines the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique where it grows in and around quartzite rocky outcrops at an altitude between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. Aloe munchii was named after Raymond Charles Munch (1901 - 1985), Zimbabwean farmer and plant collector with a particular interest in aloes and cycads. Munch and his wife Hazel O. Munch (honored in the naming of Aloe hazeliana) explored and botanized southern and central Africa. read more

Aloe mutabilis

Aloe mutabilis grows naturally on vertical rock faces of Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden at the Witpoortjie waterfall near Johannesburg, South Africa. First described in 1933 by South African botanist Neville Stuart Pillans, for whom Aloe pillansii was named, though some maintain that Aloe mutabilis is close enough to Aloe arborescens that it should be classed as a subspecies or a Highveld form, rather than a species in its own right. The plant's name is the Latin word for 'changeable' and it is thought that this is a reference to the changing color of the flowers as they mature but may also describe the variability of the plant. Aloe mutabilis is today considered as a specific form of Aloe arborescens. read more

Aloe peglerae

Aloe peglerae is native from South Africa, it’s an endemic species to to the Magaliesberg, from near Pretoria to near Rustenburg in the Western Transvaal, and the northern, rocky slopes of the Witwatersberg. The species is named after Alice Marguerite Pegler (1861-1929), a botanist and naturalist who collected at first around Kentani, and later in the vicinity of Johannesburg and Rustenburg. It is listed in the Red Data list of South Africa as an endangered species on the extinction queue if not protected or grown for ex-situ conservation. The greatest threat to this plant is caused by over collection in the wild by plant collectors and developments along the ridges where the plants occur. It is illegal to collect this plant from the wild. read more

Aloe petricola

Aloe petricola has a fairly restricted distribution between 1,600 to 3,300 feet elevation where it is found in large colonies on rocky slopes and outcrops in the Eastern Transvaal in South Africa. The latin name petricola, means ‘inhabitant of rocky places’, referring to this aloe’s preferred habitat of sandstone slopes and granite outcrops The plant was first described in 1917 by South African botanist Dr Illtyd B. Pole-Evans (1877–1968). This species is not threatened and its population is stable. read more

Aloe pillansii

Aloe pillansii is named after Neville S. Pillans, a well-known Cape botasnist who first collected Aloe pillansii. The common name comes from a translation of the Afrikaans name Kokerboom which translates as a quiver tree as the hollowed stems were used as a quiver for arrows. A. pillansii is confined to a small region of less than 200 square kilometers in north-western South Africa (the Richtersveld) and southwestern Namibia. There are probably fewer than 5,000 individuals (adult less than 200) of this species alive today, and distinct populations may be composed of only a few individuals. Aloidendron pillansii is arguably the scarcest of all tree aloes in southern Africa. It was previously called Aloe pillansii, however a new genus Aloidendron has been created for the tree aloes. This tree is synonymous with the extreme arid northwest of South Africa and the rugged mountainous parts of southern Namibia. It is regarded as critically endangered. According to the IUCN website they are not actively reproducing and the older plants are dying. Its main threats are poaching and habitat loss due to mining and other human related activities. The Aloe pillansii South African national tree number is 30. read more

Aloe plicatilis

This plant was previously called Aloe plicatilis. This aloe comes from the winter rainfall Western Cape where it can be found growing on steep, rocky slopes in well-drained soil that are typically acidic and found in association with other fynbos vegetation such as ericas and plants in the protea family. To correct this the plant was renamed by Philip Miller in 1768 using Linnaeus' varietal name for its specific one - this name from the Latin word ' plicatilis' meaning 'foldable' is in reference the fan-shaped rosettes. Kumara plicatilis derives its common name fan-aloe from its former placement in the genus Aloe and the unusual distichous arrangement of its linear leaves. read more

Aloe pluridens

This close relative of Aloe arborescens has a natural distribution along a wide area of the coast from the summer rainfall and frost free Eastern Cape to KwaZulu Natal in South Africa, where it often grows with heads of foliage popping out through dense foliage of lower growing shrubs. It was first described in 1824 by English botanist Adrian H. Haworth (1767-1833) from a plant collected by James Bowie (1789-1869) who later introduced it into cultivation in England in the 1820s. Bowie was a plant collector for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He undertook many expeditions and collected many plants, and contributed much to our knowledge of aloes and succulents. The species name means 'many toothed' and is derived from the Latin pluri meaning 'many' and dens meaning 'teeth', referring to the toothed leaves. The common name 'French Aloe' is a bit perplexing though Gilbert W. Reynolds in The Aloes of South Africa notes that this name came from its use in the Traskei region. In South Africa it has also been known by the common names Fransaalwyn and Garaa. It often grows in association with Aloe ferox, A. africana and A. speciosa, and hybrids can occur. Aloe pluridens native climate is moderate, without frost, and hot and humid during summers. They are usually seen growing on deep sandy soil. Aloe pluridens has been granted tree status and its national tree number is 30.1. read more

Aloe ramosissima

Aloe 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. read more

Aloe arborescens

This species has an extensive natural distribution in southern Africa, from Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi south through eastern South Africa, and then westward in a strip along the coast nearly to Cape Town. Aloe arborescens has adapted to many different habitats, its natural habitat usually consists of mountainous areas including rocky outcrops and exposed ridges. Its habitat can vary and is one of only a few species of aloe that is found growing from sea level up to the tops of mountains. Much of its natural range receives summer or year-round rainfall. The plant's name means 'becoming a tree' for this plant's large stature, though a bit misleading as this plant is a large shrub. read more

Aloe aristata

Aloe aristata belongs to the Aristaloe genus of flowering plants native to South Africa and so appears similar to the Haworthia genus. It is native to mountains grassland of South Africa and is therefore best suited to warm, dry conditions. read more

Aloe barberae

It is native to South Africa northwards to Mozambique. Aloidendron barberae was first collected and submitted for classification by Mary Elizabeth Barber, who was a plant collector in the former Transkei who sent specimens of the plant and its flowers to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and it was named in her honor. The same plant was also sent to Kew in 1873 by the explorer and painter Mr. Thomas Baines who collected it in Natal. Subsequently it was named Aloe bainesii. Although known as A. bainseii for many years, Aloe barberae was the name first given to this plant, and takes precedence according to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, and so is the epithet used in the combination Aloidendron barberae. The genus Aloe was reassessed and split into a few genera in 2013. The genus Aloidendron, meaning 'tree aloe' was formed and includes all the tree aloes, recognising that they are more closely related to each other than to other aloes. Its habitat is occurs in dense, tall bush and subtropical coastal forests, kloofs and dry valleys in the summer rainfall eastern regions of southern Africa. read more

Aloe reitzii

This plant has a restricted distribution in a very small area on rocky slopes in the grasslands near the Belfast district of Mpumalanga in northern KwaZulu-Natal. This aloe is endemic to this area and occurs nowhere else in the world. There is also a winter-blooming form of this plant called Aloe reitzii var. vernalis that comes from The Vryheid District to the north. Plant named in 1943 to honor Francis William Reitz, then the South African Minister of Agriculture. read more

Aloe reynoldsii

Aloe reynoldsii has a very restricted natural distribution in a unique habitat on sheer south-facing shale cliffs along the Mbashe River around 1000 to 2000 feet in elevation near Idutywa in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This area has hot summers and cooler, dry winters with rainfall occurring mainly in summer. Aloe reynoldsii was named in honor of the well-known Aloe specialist, G.W. Reynolds (1895–1967). Another common name is Yellow Spineless Aloe. Aloe reynoldsii is listed as Rare in the Red List of South African plants. It has a very restricted distribution and a very specialized habitat. Major threats are invasion of its habitat by Lantana camara and illegal collecting for horticulture, however, most of its population is inaccessible, because of its cliff-face habitat and it is not believed to be threatened. Often it grows in cracks between boulders along with other succulent plants like Crassula falcata, in frost-free areas with a high humidity factor. read more

Aloe rupestris

The plant name 'rupestris' means 'growing in rocky places' and refers to its habitat. The Bottlebrush Aloe gets its common name from its distinctive and showy flowers. Aloe rupestris occurs naturally across the south-eastern summer-rainfall areas of Kwazulu-Natal Province, South Africa, as well as Swaziland and southern Mozambique. Within this range, it favors rocky areas in bushveld, sandy coastal forest, and hilly areas where it occurs on rocky ridges and slopes. The region is frost free and day temperatures reach around 38C. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat. Aloe rupestris is closely related to Aloe excelsa and Aloe thraskii. Aloe rupestris has been given tree status in South Africa and its national tree number is 30.3. read more

Aloe speciosa

The tilt-head aloe is so named because of the way that its rosette tilts to one side, in the direction of the greatest sun. The Latin name 'speciosa' means showy, and was actually given in reference to its ornamental flowers. The species is also known as Aloe hexapetala - also in reference to its flowers ('hexa-petala' means 'six-petaled'). The tilt-head aloe is found in two disjunct spots. It occurs in the south-central part of the Western Cape province, from near Swellendam to the Little Karoo. It also occurs over a large part of the southern Eastern Cape province as far as the border of the Transkei, South Africa. Here its habitat is often dense thickets, especially the Albany Thicket biome. read more

Aloe spicata

The native habitat of Aloe spicata is steep slopes from sea level to over one mile in altitude in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and the northeastern provinces of South Africa. It was originally described by Linnaeus in 1781 with the plants name referencing its spike-shaped inflorescence with sessile flowers. Other common names include Bullocks Bottle-brush Aloe, Lemombo aloe and Spike-flowered Aloe. The plant later described as Aloe sessiliflora is now considered to be a synonym. Aloe spicata has been used for medicinal purposes, chiefly as a purgative. Most often seen in botanical gardens under the synonym Aloe sessiliflora, this species was introduced in cultivation in 1795. read more

Aloe striata subsp. karasbergensis

Karasbergensis is one of two less known, but equally striking, subspecies of Aloe striata. This species comes from the Great Karashberg Range in Northern Cape to South-Namibia, one of the most arid regions of South Africa. Plants have a preference for dry, hot desert to semi-desert conditions, and may be found in dry river beds, rocky hill slopes, and stony rugged mountainous areas, where they are sheltered among boulders and rock massifs. The specific epithet striata literally means ‘marked with lines’, a conspicuous characteristic seen on the leaves of all three subspecies. The subspecies name karasbergensis, refers to the great Karasberg Mountains in the south of Namibia, one of the places where it occurs. The plant was collected in October 1926 by well-known plant collector and botanical explorer, Neville Stuart Pillans (1884–1964) from Rosebank, Cape Town. Pillans decribed the plant when it flowered in his Rosebank garden in February 1928. This aloe is very similar to Coral Aloe (Aloe striata), found mostly to its south, and has historically been lumped with it, but differs in floral features as well as leaf color (gray not green). It was initially lumped in with Aloe striata (which, interestingly, has NO striations) but is now considered a separate species (and I think rightly so). This variety is not endangered. read more

Aloe striata

Aloe striata is widely distributed in the dry areas of the Eastern and Western Cape provinces of South Africa, growing from 800 to 7,300 feet in elevation. The specific epithet 'striata' is from the Latin adjective 'striatum' (strio) meaning 'grooved' or 'striped', in reference to the longitudinal stripes of the leaves. Be wary of imposters - much of what is sold as Aloe striata in the nursery trade is actually a garden hybrid that has teeth along the leaf margins - for more information on this see our page on Aloe striata hybrid. karasbergensis and Aloe buhrii is also another species that is similar and sometimes confused with this species. Due to the similarity of their species names, Aloe striata is sometimes confused in literature with Aloiampelos striatula (syn. Aloe striatula, hardy aloe) — a very different plant, found in the highlands of the Eastern Cape. read more

Aloe striatula 'Burly'

This species come from the Karoo to the Eastern Cape Province in South African and in the mountains of southern Lesotho. The name, striatula, comes from the characteristic stripes on the sheaths of the stems. The plant's Latin species epithet 'striatula' means 'little stripes', and refers to the thin dark-green stripes that can be seen on the plant's leaf sheaths. It is closely related to Cape Town's Aloiampelos commixta, but it is easily distinguished from it by the distinctive dark green stripes on the stems and leaf sheaths (its species name, striatula, means 'little stripes'), and by its thin, recurved leaves (which, like its flowers, are more densely packed). In the Eastern Cape it is often planted along the boundaries of kraals, as it naturally forms a well-shaped and hardy hedge. This aloe grows among rocks on mountain tops within the winter snow belt in one of the coldest parts of southern Africa. It occurs at altitudes from 500 m to 1500 m on rocky outcrops in grassland with extreme temperatures. read more

Aloe succotrina

Growing high up on the cliff faces and rocky outcrops in the mountains of the Western Cape, this is one of only a few fynbos aloes. Aloe succotrina is a true fynbos species and always occurs on quartzitic, sandstone rocks and cliffs of the Cape Fold Mountains, in the extreme southwestern Cape. They grow on sheer cliff faces, hills and rock faces and are restricted to the Cape Peninsula, Hangklip and Hermanus areas. In a number of localities, plants are found to grow amongst and between sandstone boulders. The plants grow from sea level to an altitude of 900 m. It receives winter rainfall and hot dry summers. Aloe succotrina has had a very confused history. Early botanical workers assumed that the plant had originated from the Indian Ocean Island of Socotra, which is the largest of several islands, extending eastwards from the Horn of Africa. Succotrina was thought to be the adjectival form of Socotra. For many years the origin of this plant remained a mystery. It is, however, a Cape plant and in 1906, a precise locality at the Cape was recorded. read more

Aloe tauri

Aloe tauri, native to southern Zimbabwe, was named after its discoverer, EJ Bullock, using the Latin word for bull. This species is superficially similar to Aloe spicata, and for a while was lumped under that species until a fairly recent treatment of the Aloe genus in Zimbabwe where it was restored as a valid species. Like A. spicata (Southern Africa) which grows a much longer/taller stem, also related to A. castanea (South Africa) which can reach tree size. read more

Aloe tongaensis

Aloidendron tongaense, formerly Aloe tongaensis, is a species of plant in the genus Aloidendron, native to sandy tropical coastal forests in KwaZulu-Natal, at the border between Mozambique and South Africa. The specific Latin epithet tongaense, refers to Tongaland in northern, coastal Zululand. This plant has long been considered to be the Mozambique form of the tree aloe, Aloe barberae that grows in the summer rainfall eastern regions of southern Africa. Grower Kevin Coniff named the plant Aloe barberae (Aloe bainesii) ‘Medusa” in the 1980's. He noticed that these plants grew quite differently from typical Aloe barberae, branching and flowering at a younger age and producing pale orange-yellow flowers, instead of pink flowers. In 1994 John Lavranos identified these plants as the Mozambique form of Aloe barberae and noted that the seed for Coniff’s original plants was collected along the Mozambique coast near its capital Maputo. The new species, Aloe tongaensis, was officially described 2011. Leaf size and width alone is one of the best indicators that Aloe tongaensis is not just another Aloe barberae. Eventually Aloe barberaes develop into massive trees, something which Aloe tongensis seem reluctant to do (only growing up to maybe 15 feet tall), and trunk diameter, though pretty thick, pales compared to those of mature Aloe barberaes. Cultivationally the two are very similar, however, with both being among the most cold sensitive of all the aloes, reluctant to die from freezing, but badly damaged at temps below 28F (Aloe tongaensis seems a bit tougher in this respect). read more

Aloe vanbalenii

Aloe vanbalenii occurs in northern KwaZulu-Natal and in the southeastern part of Mpumalanga and adjacent areas in Swaziland, growing along the edges of exposed rock sheets or on rocky outcrops, in shallow soils, in bushveld vegetation, at an altitude of between 300–600 m. This area is frost-free with moderately high summer rainfall. The name honors J.C. van Balen, the former Director of the Park Department in Johannesburg, SA, who first collected this species. The leaves and fruits are eaten, and this aloe is planted on royal family graves in Swaziland. read more

Aloe wickensii

Aloe wickensii is from an area east of Pietersburg to Burgersfort south to near Marble Hall and Nebo in an area that receives much of its 20-25 inches of rainfall in the summer. It was named for a Mr. Wickens who with a Mr. Pienaar (honored by the very closely related Aloe pienaarii) found this plant 25 miles south of Pietersburg in Northern Transvaal in 1914. This plant is often included into Aloe cryptopoda but this bi-colored form has long been grown under the name Aloe wickensii with Aloe cryptopoda being a more uniformly all yellow or all red form. In the newest book on aloes Aloes: The Definitive Guide (Kew Publishing 2011) it is stated that: 'This striking species is easily recognized by its usually bi-colored racemes of dark red buds opening to bright yellow flowers ... it has been confused with A. cryptopoda from the northern regions of Zimbabwe but can easily be distinguished by its long-acuminate, broad floral bracts and by its flower color'. The similar Aloe lutescens, has the bicolored flowers but is a clump forming plant with yellow green foliage with a narrower inflorescence and blooms a bit later than A. wickensii. read more

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