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Products > Aloe ciliaris 'Firewall'
Aloe ciliaris 'Firewall' - Groundcover Aloe
Image of Aloe ciliaris 'Firewall'
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Aloeaceae (now Asphodeloideae)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Red
Bloomtime: Year-round
Synonyms: [Aloe ciliaris hybrid, 'Fire Break']
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 6-12 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25° F
Aloe ciliaris 'Firewall' (Groundcover Aloe) - A moderately low growing succulent with arching upright semi-woody stems to 24 to 30 inches tall and forming a dense green mass to 10 feet wide or more. The stems are densely covered by tightly overlapping 4-inch-long lanceolate leaves that are auriculate at their bases, with a sheath attaching the leaf to the stem and, as with the species, this sheath is adorned with cilia, or soft white teeth, though the teeth are shorter and more scattered than on Aloe ciliaris var. ciliaris. The scarlet-red 1 inch long flowers, on foot long unbranched inflorescences, emerge near the terminal ends of the branches and bloom throughout much of the year. More robust in all respects than the species and growing in a 2-foot-tall mound rather than climbing like Aloe ciliaris var. ciliaris.

Plant in full sun to light shade and irrigate occasionally to very little - quite drought tolerant but remains greener and plumper with some irrigation. This plant is a bit more tolerant of cold temperatures than the species and has been undamaged by winter temperatures of 20 - 25° F. This is an old hybrid that we first noted seeing old plantings in Santa Barbara area gardens in the 1980s and there has been much speculation as to its origins. The plant certainly most closely resembles, Aloe ciliaris, which is a hexaploid (2n= 42) and since nearly all other South African aloes are diploids with 14 chromosomes, a hybrid with Aloe ciliaris as a parent would be difficult and there are no known natural hybrids of Aloe ciliaris in the wild. Aloe ciliaris is now considered to have three varieties, variety ciliaris, a hexaploid (2n=42), variety tidmarshii, a diploid(2n=14) and variety redacta, a tetraploid(2n=28) with var. tidmarshii probably being the progenitor of the group. With the discovery of the polyploidy in natural populations of the species, the chances of a natural or created hybrid is certainly more feasible. To this point there was a garden-grown plant of the species described as 'forma gigas' in 1938 by Dr. Flávio Resende that was determined to be a petaploid (2n=35) and maybe this is what this plant is. We may never determine the actual parentage or origins of this plant, which we have grown in the nursery garden since receiving it 1985. It is a common plant in old gardens in Santa Barbara and is particularly plentiful at Bellosguardo, the wonderful Santa Barbara estate owned by the late Huguette Clark where we first saw in large 15-foot-wide solid stands.

We began selling this plant in 2001, listing it as Aloe ciliaris hybrid with the common name Groundcover Aloe. In 2012 we circulated pictures and descriptions of it around to our aloe growing friends in hopes to come up with a cultivar name for it. With its densely overlapping succulent leaves it was observed to be fire resistant and possibly even stop passage of fire across large patches of it during wildfires in San Diego County and someone growing this plant down there dubbed it "Firewall". We felt this name quite fitting, so since 2015 we listed this plant as Aloe ciliaris 'Firewall'. In an interesting twist of nomenclature, a recent proposal is to place this and other climbing aloe into their own genus, Aloiampelos - see our listing of Aloe ciliaris var. ciliaris, for more information on this. We also grow for the more delicate Aloe ciliaris var. tidmarshii

This information about Aloe ciliaris 'Firewall' 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.