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Products > Aloe plicatilis
Aloe plicatilis - Fan Aloe
Image of Aloe plicatilis
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Aloeaceae (now Asphodeloideae)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Red
Bloomtime: Winter/Spring
Synonyms: [Kumara disticha]
Height: 4-8 feet
Width: 4-6 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Aloe plicatilis (Fan Aloe) - An interesting succulent shrub with gray colored stems that each terminate with a fan-like cluster arrangement of flat 12 inch long slightly upcurved blue-gray round-tipped leaves with old leaves dropping away cleanly to expose the attractive smooth trunk. Old plants are typically 3-6 feet tall but others in cultivation have been noted to 8 feet tall by 6 feet wide and plants in the wild in the high winter rainfall areas of western Cape Mountains of South Africa are reportedly as tall as 15 feet. Each leaf cluster bears one erect 12- to 20-inch-tall unbranched inflorescence bearing an open terminal cluster of tubular orange-red flowers in late winter to early spring.

Plant in the sun along the coast in a well-draining soil, but away from the hottest afternoon sun in inland situations and water occasionally to infrequently during summer months. Hardy to about 23 degrees F. Needs winter and spring irrigation if grown where it does not receive adequate water from rainfall. A very attractive and unusual succulent shrub that can be used as a specimen plant in the garden or as a container plant.

Aloe plicatilis 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 Erica species and plants in the protea family. It was described in 1695 by Heinrich Bernhard Oldenland but the first valid Latin name applied to this plant by Linnaeus in 1753, was as a variety of Aloe disticha (var. plicatilis), a species synonymous with Aloe maculata. To correct this error 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.

In an interesting twist of nomenclature, an article in the Journal >i>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 Kumara disticha, a name that was used to described it by the German botanist Friedrich Kasimir Medikus in 1786. Other major name changes proposed in this article include that all of the tree aloes (Aloe barberae, A. dichotoma, A. eminens, A. pillansii, A. ramosissima and A. tongaensis ) be placed in the genus Aloidendron and the scrambling aloes (A. ciliaris, A. commixta, A. gracilis, A. juddii, A. striatula and A. tenuior) be put in the genus Aloiampelos. Until such time as this name change gets wider recognition we continue to call this plant by its original name.

By whatever name one uses for this plant, it has long been in cultivation in California as evidenced by its mention as being grown here in an article titled "Aloes" by Eric Walther in the first year of issue of the Journal of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America (CSSA) in December 1929. We have grown this attractive and interesting succulent plant since 1988 and grow two hybrids of it, an open pollenated plant with it as the seed parent that we selected and named Aloe 'Jenny Lind' and a small tree aloe that resulted from crossing Aloe barberae with Aloe plicatilis called Aloe 'Pandan'

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