Astroloba rubriflora (L.Bolus) Gideon F.Sm. & J.C.Manning
Red-flowered Astroloba, Robertson Astroloba
Aloe rubriflora, Apicra rubriflora, Haworthia rubriflora, Poellnitzia rubriflora, Tulista rubriflora
Astroloba rubriflora, formerly known as Poellnitzia rubriflora, is a small, sprawling succulent with slender stems and sharply-pointed, usually four-ranked leaves in spirally arranged rows. It produces offsets at and near the base. The stems are initially erect and become ascending as they grow, reaching 18 inches (45 cm) in length. The leaves are dark green to glaucous green, coated with a waxy layer, and take on a brownish hue when exposed to full sun. They are thick and stiff, with a concave or flat upper surface and a convex lower surface that is keeled toward the tip, measuring up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) long, 0.8 inches (2 cm) wide, and 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) thick. The keel and margins of the leaves are somewhat rough.
The flowers are red to reddish-orange with dark green tips and appear in horizontal racemes on simple, slender stalks that reach 20 inches (50 cm) in length, usually in summer. The flowers are tubular, about 0.8 inches (2 cm) long and 0.15 inches (0.3 cm) in diameter. The fruits are green, trilocular capsules that contain dark brown to black seeds.
Astroloba rubriflora is native to South Africa. It grows in rocky karroid flats and low hills in Robertson Karoo in the Western Cape province.
The specific epithet "rubriflora (roo-bri-FLOR-uh)" means "red-flowered" and refers to the peculiarly-formed red flowers with green tips.
USDA hardiness zone 10b to 11b: from 35 °F (+1.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Astroloba plants are increasingly popular as succulent ornamentals due to the extraordinary beauty of their leaf structure. Some have intricate patterns of lines, margins, spots, and raised tubercles on their leaves. Nearly all of them display a crystal-like regularity in their leaf arrangement. This is not always apparent in wild plants, usually disfigured by their harsh habitat.
In cultivation, Astrolobas are at their best when provided with some protection from full sun. However, Astrolobas can become remarkably beautiful and ornate in a semi-shade environment with highly well-drained soil and gentle conditions.
Unfortunately, when conditions are not ideal, occasional random leaves can die, shrivel up, and go brown all along their stem. This is unfortunate because, as explained, much of the beauty of the plants comes from the intricate, crystalline pattern of their leaves. However, this disfigurement can be avoided by keeping the plants in optimal, fertile conditions – growing steadily and sheltered from stress.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Astroloba.
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