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Products > Aloe barberae
Aloe barberae - Tree Aloe
Image of Aloe barberae
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Aloeaceae (now Asphodeloideae)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Rose Pink
Bloomtime: Fall/Winter
Synonyms: [Aloe bainesii, Aloidendron barberae]
Height: 20-30 feet
Width: 10-20 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Aloe barberae (Tree Aloe) - A large succulent that grows into a tree to 30 feet tall or more with upright-growing thick mottled gray stems. The terminal branches hold rosettes of recurved 1 to 2 foot long dark green leaves. In late winter, the rose-pink flowers in a tight inflorescence rise above the foliage.

Plant in full sun or light shade in a fairly well drained soil and irrigate only occasionally to infrequently. It is moderately drought tolerant in our mediterranean climate and overwatering of heavy soils, particularly in shady locations, seems to promote a black leaf spot. Hardy to about 25 degrees F and reportedly survives short durations down to 22 degrees F - our large specimen had discolored foliage but was not severely damaged in the January 2007 freeze event that had three nights that dropped to 25 F. A great tree for the succulent garden and is fairly clean so good near a pool and can be kept many years in a large container. It does get a thick buttressed base with age so make sure to given it enough space to grow.

Aloe barberae grows naturally in the eastern part of southern Africa in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, eastern Swaziland, Mpumalanga (Barberton District) and southern Mozambique where it is found in evergreen and margins of dry deciduous forests. It was long been known by botanists and horticulturalists world-wide as Aloe bainesii. William Turner Thiselton-Dyer, the botanist who originally described and named the species, published the name Aloe bainesii and Aloe barberae in the same paper, then published a note a few months later that united the two taxa and chose Aloe barberae as the proper name. The later note was overlooked until attention was drawn to it by Gideon Smith in a 1994 article in Bothalia, the South African journal of life science research and conservation, and later in in 1996 in Smith and Ben-Erik Van Wyk's book, the Guide to the Aloes of South Africa. This plant was discovered by Mary Elizabeth Barber, a plant collector in the area formerly known as Transkei, who sent specimens of the plant and its flowers to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Dyer, who was then Director at Kew, named it in her honor in 1874. Plants were also sent to Kew in 1873 by the explorer and painter Mr. Thomas Baines who collected it in Natal.

In an interesting twist of nomenclature, an article in the Journal Phytotaxa 76 (1): 714 (2013), titled "A revised generic classification for Aloe (Xanthorrhoeaceae subfam. Asphodeloideae)" proposed that this plant actually be taken out of the genus aloe and given the name Aloidendron barberae (Dyer) Klopper & Gideon F.Sm., comb. nov. Other major name changes proposed in this article include the other tree aloes (Aloe dichotoma, A. eminens, A. pillansii, A. ramosissima and A. tongaensis) also being placed in the genus Aloidendron and the scrambling aloes (A. ciliaris, A. commixta, A. gracilis, A. juddii, A. striatula and A. tenuior) being put in the genus Aloiampelos and the Aloe plicatilis, the popular Fan Aloe to be renamed Kumara disticha, a name that was used to described it by the German botanist Friedrich Kasimir Medikus in 1786. This plant is listed as Aloidendron barberae in Ernst van Jaarsveld and Eric Judd's 2015 book Tree Aloes of Africa. We have grown this great plant at our nursery since 1987 and we will continue to list it as a species of aloe so not to confuse our customers and our staff. 

This information about Aloe barberae displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.