Aloe suprafoliata

Water Needs

low; water wise

Aloe suprafoliata
Aloe; Succulent
Book-leaved Aloe; Boekaalwyn

45-60cm x 38-45cm

Size

Light Conditions

sun

Frost

light; moderate; hardy

Flowers

pink; red; May – July; autumn; winter

sun; rockery gravel; walls; roof; cliffs; container; dry soil; narrow spaces; slope bank; wildlife bees insects birds

Garden Situation

Habitat

rocky places; grassland

Region

Highveld; KwaZulu Natal

Rain Season

summer

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Description

Treasured by many local and overseas gardeners, it is surprising to see how little it appears in our local gardens given its elegant and unique beauty and relative ease of cultivation. Listed as not threatened in the Red Data Book, SA, it is one of the frost- hardy Aloes, coping with sub-zero temperatures to -4 degrees. It is unique in being the only Aloe species to change its growth habits as it matures. As young leaves emerge as a young plant, they re-curve out sideways, directly opposite and on top of each other like the pages of a book lying open on a table. As the plant matures, usually between 2 to 5 years, the leaves take on a spiral around the central stem, forming the common rosette of other Aloe species. The older leaves vary between a more spread out form and recurved. Shade of blue, purple or red paint the colourings of the leaves and this too can change with time, from a turquoise-blue to a blue-green. The blue/green leaves merge into russet tips as they curve downwards, and the natural stone, soils and grasses of the plants natural range enhances this beautiful colour mix. Sharp yet soft reddish brown teeth cover each leaf from tip to centre. The varying shades of the book Aloe are seen at their best in older specimens as the leaves open up in spiral form. Each plant produces up to 3 slender racemes (flowering stalks) at a time which rise above the leaves, each one unbranched and supporting a long and graceful flower, pinkish/red in colour. The main flowering season is May to July, yet the subtly coloured flower bud is even beautiful before it fully opens, with a silvery white sheen covering the tightly closed bud. Natural habitat: rocky slopes in Mpumalanga, Northern KZN and Swaziland regions, on the lower slopes from 300m and on up the mountains to a height of 1600m. These higher altitudes are often frosty and misty. It does well in warmer regions too, these images having been taken in a misty and winter cool Hillcrest garden – though in a gravel bed with reflective heat and light off the stones. As a nectar plant, it attracts bees, other insects and a variety of bird species. Known fondly is America as the Moustache Aloe.

Aloe suprafoliata
Aloe suprafoliata