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Products > Aloe classenii
Aloe classenii - Classen's Aloe
Image of Aloe classenii
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Aloeaceae (now Asphodeloideae)
Origin: Kenya (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Pink
Bloomtime: Winter
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 3-4 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Aloe classenii (Classen's Aloe) - An attractive and colorful suckering low-growing aloe to 18 inches tall that spreads horizontally up to 2 feet along creeping stems with emerging rosettes holding stiff bright lime green leaves that take on burgundy tones in varying amounts depending on how much sun it receives and how dry it is grown - dry growing plants in full sun can actually be a solid maroon color. Flowering occurs in late fall into winter with the buds, first a dark reddish color aging to pink and opening to display flowers of an unusual dark glaucus pink color, sometimes described as brownish, that have exerted orange stamens and are held on a well branched slender inflorescence that rises above the foliage to about 30 inches - the flowers are also unique in that there is a noted space between the outer tepals near their tips, instead of being tubular like most aloes.

This plant will grow and flower in considerable shade but has more interesting foliage colors when in full sun. Though listed by some as not particularly cold hardy, it has proven hardy in our garden to 25F, having weathered the January 2007 freeze with three nights down to this temperature, though winter flowers will be damaged at these temperatures. An attractive and interesting plant both for its unique plastic-like leaves and for its unusual flowers.

Aloe classenii is found in nature only on rocky outcrops in dry bushland around 2,000 feet in southeastern Kenya, near the border with Tanzania. The epithet honors Russia born geologist George A. Classen who in settled in Nairobi Kenya and collected plants during his travels. Gilbert Westacott Reynolds named the plant for Classen in gratitude for help providing plants, data and photographs of this species and others.

We began selling this plant in 2016 from plants vegetatively propagated from a single plant received in 2005 from Stockton succulent grower Alice Waidhofer, who received the plant from the International Succulent Introductions program (ISI) founded by Lloyd Davis in 1958. The ISI, now managed by the Huntington Botanical Gardens, had the collection location with their the accession number HBG 77502 as coming from the type locality of the species at Kizima Rocks, a rock outcrop in southern Kenya. In 2018 the Huntington Botanical Gardens reissued this plant reproduced my micropropagation (tissue culture) as ISI 2018-7 noting that their original plant came to them in 1991 from Brian Kemble who had received it as a plant distributed by the ISI from seed collected by John Lavranos in Kenya. There were too few seedlings for the earlier ISI plant to be widely distributed. So it lacks an ISI number and was not it listed in the published Directory of Plants Distributed by International Succulent Introductions (1958-2001) published by Harry Mays in 2001. 

This information about Aloe classenii 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.