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  for JULY

Natives at San Marcos Growers
Succulents at San Marcos Growers
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Products > Aloe africana
Aloe africana - Spiny Aloe
Image of Aloe africana
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Aloeaceae (now Asphodeloideae)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow & Orange
Bloomtime: Winter/Spring
Height: 6-8 feet
Width: 2-4 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Aloe africana (Spiny Aloe) A solitary often unbranched small tree-like aloe usually up to 6 feet but sometimes taller with rosettes densely crowded with gracefully arching 2-foot-long lance-shaped thick grayish blue-green leaves that have prominent sharp red teeth along the margins and in a row running along the middle of the lower surface with older leaves skirting the trunk. Flowering on this species can happen at other times but most often in mid-winter to early spring (January-March) with an un-branched to few-branched 2-to-3-foot inflorescence of erect long-tapering terminal spikes of flowers that are orange in bud and turning yellow just prior to opening from the bottom of the spike upwards. The individual flowers are held in a downward inclination but uniquely turn upwards towards the tips, making identification of this species quite easy.

Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil and irrigate regularly to very little - though from a climate that gets little frost and more summer moisture within its natural range, it adapts well to our mediterranean summer dry climate with only infrequent summer irrigation and temperatures down to 25F - unharmed in our January 2007 freeze with 3 nights at 25F. This is a great plant that can be used as a focal point like a small tree aloe and underplanted with other succulents. Keep it back from the path as the teeth are sharp and catch clothing and cut the skin, but in flower it is sensational and also very attractive to bees and hummingbirds.

Aloe africana is native to the summer moist coastal Eastern Cape in South Africa where it grows within thickets of shrubs from sea level to nearly 1,000 feet in elevation. It was described in 1768 by the Scottish botanist Philip Miller, who was also the chief gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden. It was grown in Europe prior to when many other aloes were described and before Linnaeus establishing the binominal classification system we currently use. The specific epithet that Miller gave it is simply in reference its African origins. The common name Uitenhage Aloe used in South Africa comes from a locality, the Uitenhage District, where this plant is plentiful.

We have offered this plant since 2015 and grown it from cuttings taken from stock on this plant received in 2012 from the Institute of Aloe Studies as Aloe africana IAS08-001. 

This information about Aloe africana 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.