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Products > Aloe arborescens
Aloe arborescens - Torch Aloe
Image of Aloe arborescens
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Aloeaceae (now Asphodeloideae)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Red
Bloomtime: Fall/Winter
Height: 6-8 feet
Width: 6-8 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 arborescens (Torch Aloe) A large densely growing succulent shrub to 9 feet tall by an equal spread with branching stems holding many 18-inch-wide rosettes of narrow recurved soft-toothed margined leaves that are dull green, yellow-green to sometimes blue-green depending on the location and amount of sunlight received. Coral-red flowers hang tightly on the unbranched inflorescences that rise 2 feet above the foliage in late fall and early winter.

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 22 degrees F. A great large aloe where there is enough space in the garden.

This species has long been in cultivation in California with it being listed as common in Pearl Chase's 1930 book An annotated List of Cultivated Plants Cultivated in Santa Barbara: Cacti and other Succulents. We have been growing this Santa Barbara signature plant since 1982. We also grow the yellow forms Aloe arborescens 'Lutea' and Aloe 'Yellow Torch', the dwarf variety Aloe arborescens var. mzimnyati and the Aloe arborescens hybrid with Aloe ferox that is called Aloe x salm-dyckiana. This species has an extensive natural distribution in southern Africa, from Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi south through eastern South Africa, and then westward in a strip along the coast nearly to Cape Town. Much of its natural range receives summer or year-round rainfall but in our mediterranean climate this species has adapted well and thrives with our winter rainfall with very little to no summer irrigation.

The name Aloe comes from ancient Greek name aloe that was derived from the Arabian word 'alloch' that was used to describe the plant or its juice that was used as medicine. The specific epithet means "becoming a tree" for this plant's large stature, though a bit misleading as this plant is more of a large shrub. While we tend to call this plant 'torch aloe' for its stout vivid red flowers, a common name used in South Africa is Krantz Aloe, named for the Afrikaner word 'krantz' meaning a "rocky ridge" or "cliff" in reference to one preferred habitat, though this plant comes from varied habitats from down at sea level up to high in the mountains. 

This information about Aloe arborescens 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.