Also Known As: Classen's Aloe
Category: Red Aloes
USDA Hardiness Zones: 9b - 11
OverviewAloe classenii is a very attractive, colorful suckering, crawling aloe from Kenya that makes a profuse mass of lime green and bright red red to maroon. Grows up to 18 inches tall and spreads horizontally up to 2 feet along creeping stems with emerging rosettes made of almost plastic-like leaves.
DescriptionClassen's Aloe will grow and flower in considerable shade but has more interesting foliage colors when in full sun. The foliage is perhaps more colorful, as it can blush reddish when in full sun and given no water and exposed to some cold, such as where it grows in nature on low granite domes which are isolated in bushland along the Kenya – Tanzania border. It has a solitary rosette bearing numerous brownish-green leaves with brown marginal spines.
FloweringFlowering occurs in late fall into winter with the buds, first a dark reddish color aging to pink and opening to display flowers of an unusual dark glaucus pink color, almost brownish, that have exerted orange stamens and are held on a well branched slender inflorescence that can rise above the rosettes up to 30 inches.
Origin / HistoryIt is found in nature only on rocky outcrops in dry bushland around 2,000 feet in southeastern Kenya, near the border with Tanzania. The name honors Russia born geologist George A. Classen who in settled in Nairobi Kenya and collected plants during his travels. Gilbert Westacott Reynolds named the plant for Classen in gratitude for help providing plants, data and photographs of this species and others. George Classen (1915 – 1982) was born in Russia and settled in Nairobi, Kenya. He botanized southern Kenya during the 1960s and 1970s while travelling professionally as a hydrologist, bringing a number of new succulent taxa (aloes, euphorbias, etc.) to the attention of botanists who subsequently described them as new to science. From southeastern Kenya, this species appears to be restricted to granitic domes at low elevations.
Care / Cultivation
Frost TendernessAloe classenii has reportedly proven hardy to 25°F, though winter flowers will be damaged at these temperatures. It is not a cold hardy plant with marked leaf damage with any degree of frost, on the newest leaves.
Use in the GardenGiven it's habit to offset profusely, smaller size and attractive foliage, Aloe classenii makes an interesting choice of plant for use as a ground cover.
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