Aloe lolwensis (Lake Victoria Aloe) - Stemless rosette-forming plant to about 2 feet tall that suckers to form clumps with erect to slightly spreading glossy mid-green broad-based 20 inch long lanceolate leaves that have prominent brownish teeth well-spaced along the leaf margin - leaves flush a unique reddish-brown color in winter. The inflorescence, which appears in mid-summer, rises to 4 feet tall with several pale gray upright branches bearing upright gray-pink buds that reflex as they open with a coral-red tube, pale yellow petal lobes and yellow exerted stamens.
Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil and give regular to occasional irrigation. This plant is little known in cultivation, but the first plants grown in the San Francisco bay area withstood winter temperatures in the high 20's. It is from an equatorial area that receives low but year-round rainfall with little variation in seasonal temperatures and so it was with some skepticism that we thought this plant would do well in our cool wet-winter climate, but it has grown very well and flowered regularly in our own garden since first planting it in 2010.
Aloe lolwensis is found in grasslands in Kenya near Lake Victoria and on several islands (The type plant described from Rusinga Island) at 4000 to 5000 feet in elevation. It was only recently described by Len Newton in 2001 and was likely previously included with Aloe mubendiensis, from which it differs by having more numerous and longer, more glossy leaves and a taller inflorescence with coral-red flowers instead of the dark brick-red ofAloe mubendiensis, which we also grow. The name Aloe comes from ancient Greek name aloe that was derived from the Arabian word 'alloch' that was used to describe the plant or its juice that was used as medicine. The specific epithet is in reference to Lake Victoria, locally called Nam Lolwe in the Luo language.
Our original stock plants from seed distributed by Brian Kemble and John Miller of the Institute of Aloe Studies in 2007 from a self-pollinated plant that John Miller grew from seed collected on Zenze Island in Lake Victoria by Anne and Gilfred Powys, explorers and ranchers in Kenya.
Information about Aloe lolwensis displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.