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Aloe africana (African Aloe)

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Scientific Name

Aloe africana Mill.

Common Names

African Aloe, Spiny Aloe, Uitenhage Aloe

Synonyms

Aloe angustifolia, Aloe bolusii, Aloe perfoliata var. africana, Aloe pseudoafricana, Pachidendron africanum, Pachidendron angustifolium

Scientific Classification

Family: Asphodelaceae
Subfamily: Asphodeloideae
Tribe: Aloeae
Genus: Aloe

Description

Aloe africana is a solitary, often unbranched, small, tree-like Aloe, usually up to 6 feet (1.8 m) but sometimes taller, with rosettes densely crowded with gracefully arching 2 foot (60 cm) 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, with an unbranched to fewbranched, up to 3 foot (90 cm) tall inflorescence of erect, long-tapering, terminal spikes of flowers that are orange in bud and turn 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.

Photo via flickr.com

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zone 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Aloe is a very forgiving plant, and a well-grown plant can be quite beautiful. As with all succulents, it's essential that Aloe is never allowed to sit in stagnant water, and the plant should be carefully monitored to watch for signs of overwatering.

Aloe are not particularly fast-growing and will only rarely need repotting. Repot plants in the spring that are tipping over their pots or have ceased growing. Use a fast-draining potting mix with one-third sand or pebbles. During repotting of a larger plant, it is possible to carefully divide the root ball. Some kinds of Aloe will send off off-sets that can be potted independently.

It needs strong, bright light. They can withstand full summer sun, once acclimated. In the winter, provide bright light. It prefers warmer temperatures of 70 to 80 °F (21 to 27 °C), but will survive down to 40 °F (4.5 °C). Feed with a cactus fertilizer in the summer only. Suspend feeding in the winter as the plant goes dormant… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Aloe

Origin

Aloe africana is native to South Africa (Eastern Cape).

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