Aloe ferox

Water Needs

low; drought-hardy; water wise

Aloe ferox
Aloe; succulent
Bitter Aloe; Karoo Aloe

5 x 2 m

Size

Light Conditions

sun

Frost

light; moderate; hardy

Flowers

red, orange; May – September; winter; spring

sun; container; rockery; security; shrubbery; slope bank; windy exposed; focal point; wildlife bees birds insects

Garden Situation

Habitat

Coastal KZN; Coastal Eastern Cape; grassland; rocky places; urban streets

Region

Thicket; Western Cape; Subtropical East Coast

Rain Season

winter; summer

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Description

This beautiful Aloe species is well-deserving of its popularity in formal and wild gardens, as well as commercial landscapes. The robust single-stem supports a heavy rosette of spiny, upward-curving grey-green leaves. Mature plants carry a skirt of dried leaves; in the wild this acts as a protection against fire, and, while not needed in most home gardens, the old leaves are often home to lizards and insects. Long fat red to orange flowers are made up of densely packed small flower tubes that stand up tall above the leaves on large candelabra-like spikes, a familiar sight to winter travellers through the Great and Klein Karoo. From the end of autumn until the beginning of spring these nectar-rich flowers provide nutrient for wildlife in an otherwise lean period. Thick, succulent laves can be erect and marginally curved back (all aloes are leaf succulents) with margins edged with sharp teeth. Aloe candelabrum was previously part of the A. ferox species but now is a separate species with a restricted range, occurring in the KZN midlands especially around Pietermaritzburg. Flowers are shorter than A. ferox, and mostly a dull red seen in mid-winter. Leaves are more backward curved than those of A. ferox. The Bitter Aloe appears in San paintings and the nectar is thought to be a narcotic.

Aloe ferox
Aloe ferox