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Aloe ferox (Cape Aloe)

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Scientific Name

Aloe ferox Mill.

Common Names

Alligator Jaw Aloe, Bitter Aloe, Cape Aloe, Cape Prickly Aloe, Cultivated Aloe, Medicinal Aloe, New Aloe, Red Aloe, Tap Aloe

Synonyms

Aloe ferox var. galpinii, Aloe ferox var. incurva, Aloe ferox var. incurvata, Aloe ferox var. subferox, Aloe galpinii, Aloe horrida, Aloe muricata, Aloe pallancae, Aloe perfoliata var. ferox, Aloe pseudoferox, Aloe subferox, Aloe supralaevis, Aloe supralaevis var. erythrocarpa, Busipho ferox, Busipho ferox, Pachidendron ferox, Pachidendron pseudoferox, Pachidendron supralaeve, Pachydendron ferox, Pachydendron pseudoferox

Scientific Classification

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

Origin

This species is native to South Africa (Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal) and Lesotho.

Description

Aloe ferox is a succulent with erect, unbranched stem topped with a rosette of fleshy, dull blue-green leaves, often with a red tinge. The leaves can grow up to 3.3 feet (1 m) long and up 6 inches (15 cm) wide. They have reddish-brown spines along the margins and smaller spines on both surfaces. Leaves of the young plant are covered in spines, and as the plant gets taller, they begin to lose spines from its surfaces. The stem grows up to 10 feet (3 m) tall, usually covered by the withered old leaves. Flowers are tubular, yellow-orange to bright red, and appear in late fall to mid-winter on an erect, candelabra-like inflorescence with 5 to 8 racemes.

The specific epithet "ferox" derives from the Latin "ferus," meaning "fierce or war-like" and refers to the sharp spines of the leaves.

How to Grow and Care for Aloe ferox

Light: When growing Aloes indoors, place your plants near a southern or southwest-facing window that gets plenty of bright, indirect light. Outdoors, provide light shade, especially during the hottest parts of the day.

Soil: Plant Aloes in a well-drained soil specially formulated for cacti and other succulents or make your soil mix. Drainage is essential because too much moisture around roots can cause root rot.

Hardiness: Aloe ferox can withstand temperatures as low as 20 to 50 °F (-6.7 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b.

Watering: These succulents do need regular watering but are very tolerant of drought conditions for short periods. Water deeply, but only when the soil is dry. Cut back on watering during the winter months.

Fertilizing: Aloes generally do not require fertilizer but may benefit from the extra nutrients.

Repotting: These plants are not particularly fast-growing and will only rarely need repotting. Repot them in the spring in a container a few inches larger in diameter every few years to keep it from becoming rootbound.

Propagation: Propagating Aloe can be done by using the offsets, cuttings, or seeds from a mature plant.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Aloe.

Toxicity of Aloe ferox

Aloe ferox is not listed as toxic for people and pets.

Hybrids of Aloe ferox

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