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Products > Aloe ciliaris var. tidmarshii
Aloe ciliaris var. tidmarshii - Eastern Cape Climbing Aloe
Image of Aloe ciliaris var. tidmarshii
[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: [A. tidmarshii, Aloiampelos ciliaris v.tidmarshii]
Height: 8-12 feet
Width: Spreading
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
Aloe ciliaris var. tidmarshii (Fiery Climbing Aloe) - Succulent vine-like shrub with long slender semi-woody stems to 6 to 10 feet long branched from the base with leaves and flowers near the terminal ends. Like in the species these stems are gray barked with age but toward the growth tips are more pliant with dried leaf bases and striated green markings near the tips which hold the soft green narrow spear-shaped spirally arranged leaves that have soft white teeth, called cilia, along the margins which extend around the back of their clasping base. The unbranched 6-12-inch-long inflorescences rise vertically from below the tips of the branches and in an open (lax) raceme bare nearly inch long scarlet-red tubular flowers with yellow tips that dangle downwards - flowers can appear throughout the year but primarily in spring.

Plant in full sun or light shade in a warm sheltered area and irrigate little to occasionally - is drought tolerant but lusher and greener with irrigation. Not considered to be a very cold tolerant and we have not had much opportunity to test it but our plants in Santa Barbara have proven hardy to 31° F. This is a very nice a cheerful aloe that can be used as a small-scale rambling groundcover or as a vine with some support.

The natural habitat of Aloe ciliaris var. tidmarshii is limited to the warm frost-free slopes of mountains in the Uitenhage and Grahamstown Districts, where it grows amongst dense shrubs that support its thin stems. It has darker orange-red flowers and is smaller in all respects compared to Aloe ciliaris var. ciliaris with leaves 7-10 cm long and 15-20 mm wide compared to 10-15 cm long by 15-25 mm wide for the species. Additionally, this variety has shorter and less of the ciliate teeth on the back side of the auriculate (wrapping around the stem) sheath, which distinguishes Aloe ciliaris from all other aloes and gives it its descriptive specific epithet. The flower racemes of var. tidmarshii are also more laxly flowered, comparatively longer and more narrowly cylindric-acuminate than those of var. ciliaris, which are broader and shorter with flowers held more densely. The smaller but darker flowers of variety tidmarshii range in length from 16-23mm compared to 30mm in var. ciliaris. Aloe ciliaris var. tidmarshii is superficially similar to the red form of the Fence Aloe, Aloe tenuior var. rubriflora, but easily distinguished by the leaf bases which are auriculate for variety tidmarshii but not for Aloe tenuior and Aloe ciliaris var. tidmarshii has larger flowers that dangle downward while the flowers of Aloe tenuior are held more horizontal and have stamens much further exerted.

We received this plant in 2012 from the John Miller of the Institute for Aloe Studies as IAS03-032c Aloe ciliaris var. tidmarshii was originally described in 1903 as a variety of Aloe ciliaris by the German born botanist Dr. Selmar Schonland. Schonland, who came to the Eastern Cape in 1889 to take up an appointment as curator of the Albany Museum, first received this plant in 1900 from Edwin Tidmarsh (1831-1915), the curator of the Grahamstown Botanic Garden. Tidmarsh noted that he found the plant in the garden of Lark's Hotel, close to Grahamstown, and presumed it came from that immediate neighborhood. Schonland, noted that he "was disposed to regard it as a new species, but which may perhaps be better regarded as a variety of A. ciliaris". The plant was elevated to species level in 1945 by Dr Franz Sebastian Müller, a plant cytogenetic research botanist who later became a medical doctor. Muller argued that Aloe tidmarshii morphological and genetic differences (Aloe tidmarshii is a diploid with chromosome count 2n=14 while A. ciliaris a hexaploid with chromosome count 2n=42) and that the two could not be hybridized, justified them as being separate species. In "A Revision of the Aloe tidmarshii/A. ciliaris Complex in South Africa" (Kew Bulletin Vol. 45, No. 4, 1990) by Susan Carter and Peter E. Brandham, the authors described the new Aloe ciliaris variety redacta that is a naturally occurring non-hybrid tetraploid variety (2n=28) intermediate between these plants. The existence of this variety and the distribution of these plants, prompted a reconsideration of this groups taxonomy with the decision that all three were more properly varieties of Aloe ciliaris and this treatment has been generally accepted. For more information about the species please see our listing for Aloe ciliaris. Besides the two varieties of this species (var. ciliaris and var. tidmarshii) we also grow a curious robust but lower-growing plant that we long offered as "Aloe ciliaris Hybrid" but now list as Aloe ciliaris 'Firewall' as this plant has been observed to slow or perhaps even halt the advancement of fire. 

This information about Aloe ciliaris var. tidmarshii 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.