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Products > Aloe mutabilis
 
Aloe mutabilis - Small Torch Aloe
   

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Aloeaceae (Aloes)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow & Orange
Bloomtime: Fall/Winter
Height: 3-5 feet
Width: 4-6 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Aloe mutabilis - A medium size sparsely branching shrubby aloe that typically grows 3 to 4 feet tall with stems upright or laying along the ground and topped by 18 to 24 inch wide rosettes of narrow soft-toothed blue-green leaves. In mid-winter appear unique two toned flowers that rise up on unbranched or few branched inflorescences, often with several inflorescences rising from a single rosette of leaves. These flowers change color as they mature, with the red-orange buds opening to display yellow flowers. Plant in full sun to light shade. This drought tolerant plant does great in coastal California without any supplementary irrigation and is cold hardy to about 21 F. This plant is attractive to hummingbirds and bees. Aloe mutabilis is similar and closely related to the more common Aloe arborescens. Both bloom in winter but Aloe mutabilis is a smaller plant with less dense branching and bluer leaves. Its flowers are also on shorter pedicils with petals more flared and have red-orange buds that open to yellow while Aloe arborescens has buds and more tubular flowers of the same color, most often dark red-orange. Aloe mutabilis is a little hardier as well so can be grown in areas too cold for its larger cousin, Aloe arbrorescens. The type locality of Aloe mutabilis is the vertical rock faces in the Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden, now known as Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden near Johannesburg, capital of the province of Gauteng in South Africa and is found from elevations between 4,600 and 6,000 feet on cliffs and steep slopes in the mountainous areas of what was previously known, prior to the fall of apartheid, as southern and central Transvaal. First described in 1933 by South African botanist Neville Stuart Pillans, for whom Aloe pillansii was named, though some maintain that Aloe mutabilis is close enough to Aloe arborescens that it should be classed as a subspecies or a Highveld form, rather than a species in its own right. It is listed in Aloe: The Definitive Guide as a distinct species and we follow this treatment of it. The specific epithet is the Latin word for "changeable" and it is thought that this is a reference to the changing color of the flowers as they mature but may also describe the variability of the plant. Our plants came from the Institute of Aloe Studies in 2009 as IAS 09-49.  This description is based on research and observations of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in our nursery garden and in other gardens that we visit. We also incorporate comments received and appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have any additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Aloe mutabilis.
 
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