Aloe arborescens


Aloe arborescens var. frutescens
Aloe arborescens var. milleri
Aloe arborescens var. natalensis
Aloe arborescens var. pachystyrsa
Aloe arborescens var. viridifolia
Aloe perfoliata var. arborescens
Aloe salm-dyckiana
Aloe salm-dyckiana var. fulgens
Catevala arborescens


Aloe arborescens is native to South Africa, where it grows on cliffs on sandy, arid substrates and in grasslands. Its native altitude range is wide, going from the coast to 2800 meters above the sea level. It grows in dense, crowded bushes. In its habitat, it receives high summer rainfall. The flowers produce nectar and attract many different pollinators.


Aloe arborescens, the so-called “Krantz Aloe” in South Africa, is a beautiful, decorative, succulent shrub, popular for its medicinal properties and the extreme resistance to any adversity, that makes it easy to cultivate. In its natural habitat, it develops as a big shrub, reaching 2-3 meters in height and showing fully its flashy green, triangular, long leaves. It is pale greyish-blue green in colour, with long leaves (up to 60 centimeters). Also the trunk dimension is remarkable: up to 30 centimeters in diameter. Leaves are arranged in rosettes at the top of each branch, are slightly concave and markedly toothed, and turn reddish if exposed to intense sunlight. Flowers are scarlet, more intensely coloured than in other Aloe species. There are also specimens with intense yellow flowers and other plants with an unusual coexistency of red and yellow flowers on the same plant. Its blooming period goes from April to June-July. Flowers are borne on raceme-arranged inflorescences, densely covered in flowers, so that they resemble spikes.


Aloe arborescens is an easy species to grow and it’s very rewarding. Here below are our tips:

Put it in light shade or filtered sun. Avoid to expose it directly to the intense sunlight of hot summer days. It needs however a bright spot. A bright windowshill is ideal.
It can tolerate moderate frost if its substrate stays completely dry. However, to stay safe, we advise to put it indoors during the Winter or, at least, to shelter it from Winter rains to avoid root rotting. In Spring and Summer it definitely prefers to grow outdoors.
Watering should be regular in Summer (around once a week), more unfrequent in Autumn, up to completely suspended in Winter.
Choose a well-drained substrate: a succulent mix or either a standard nursery compost with some sand, gravel or perlite added will do good.
Fertilization is not necessary. You can use a specific product for succulents once a year during the Spring, diluting it with water at half the doses recommended on the label.
Aloe arborescens is a fast-growing species and will soon outgrow its pot. Repotting is necessary at least once a year, in Spring. If you live in a warm climate region, you can also plant it outdoors, directly in the ground. It is the perfect species for rock gardens. 


The propagation can be carried out both by seeds and cuttings. To detach and replant an offset is actually the easiest method. Aloes produce, in fact, numerous offsets during the Spring: Aloe arborescens is a prime example of this behaviour. Seeds, instead, are sown in Spring in a sandy substrate and take 3/4 weeks to germinate.


The genus name “Aloe” comes from the greek word “alsos” and refers to the bitter gel contained in its leaves. “Alsos”, in fact, is probably derived from a hebrew and an arab word that mean both “bitter”. The species name “arborescens” means “similar to a tree”, and it’s due to the big dimension of this shrub, that reaches 2-3 meters in height.
Aloe arborescens, like Aloe vera, possues medicinal properties: the gel of its leaves is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, can be applied on the skin to heal wounds, burns and irritations. It has been introduced into cultivation in 1700 and it is maybe the most widely cultivated Aloe species in the world. In South Africa, it was planted around the enclosures to form a living fence. Zulu people use the leaves of this plant, in the form of a dried powder, as a protection against storms. Decoctions of the leaves are also used to ease childbirth and in treating sick calves. In the Transkei world it is used for stomach ache. Some authors say that only after it was used to treat irradiation burn victims of Hiroshima that its healing properties received attention from the West.

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