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Products > Aloe ellenbeckii
Aloe ellenbeckii
Image of Aloe ellenbeckii
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Aloeaceae (now Asphodeloideae)
Origin: Africa, East (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Variegated Foliage: Yes
Flower Color: Orange
Bloomtime: Fall/Winter
Synonyms: [A. dumetorum]
Height: <1 foot
Width: Clumping
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Aloe ellenbeckii - A small low-growing aloe that forms short clumps with many open rosettes of narrow but thick 9-inch-long dark green leaves that have small white spots on upper and lower surfaces and tiny teeth along the margins. New leaves emerge nearly vertically and then arch over gracefully. In summer, fall to mid-winter or sometimes lingering into spring appear the 1 to 2 foot tall few branched or unbranched inflorescences of interesting orange-red flowers that have a round swollen base and green tips in bud that open to yellow from the bottom of the inflorescence up.

Plant in full sun to light shade (blooms well for us even in pretty deep shade) in a well-drained soil and irrigate occasionally - some say this species is easy to rot though we have not noted this. Though from a warmer climate this plant seems fairly hardy - we had a large older specimen of this species remain undamaged growing outdoors unprotected during the cold spell we had in January 2007 when temperatures dropped to 25 F several nights in a row. This is a nice smaller aloe for use as a small scale groundcover or as a potted specimen.

Aloe ellenbeckii comes from the border areas of Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, where it grows in sandy soils in dry deciduous bushlands. The specific epithet given this plant by Alwin Berber when he described it in 1905 honors Dr. Hans Ellenbeck, a German physician who collected plants during the Baron von Erlanger's expedition to East Africa in 1900-01, including this plant that he collected near Freschit in the Jubbada Dhexe Region of Kenya. This species is very similar to the larger Aloe amudatensis and a plant described in 1977 as Aloe dumetorum from a collection made in 1974 by Kew botanists Brian Mathew and Peter Brandham near Moyale in the Northern Frontier Province in Kenya that is now considered to be synonymous with Aloe ellenbeckii.

We used to classify this plant as a fall to winter bloomer but have extended this to also spring and summer the plant pictured on this page is one that flowered in November, but the 2nd image is of one that is flowing in August. It is one of the aloes that Ruth Bancroft Garden curator Brian Kemble lumps into the "I'll flower when I feel like it" aloe types because it is unpredictable when it will flower. We particularly like this plant as it flowers well for us in shady locations. Our plants from a stock plant received in 2005 from Stockton succulent collector Alice Waidhofer with a label indicating she had received it in 1997 from Brian Kemble at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. We have grown and sold this charming smaller aloe since 2010. 

This information about Aloe ellenbeckii 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.