Aloe aristata var. leiophylla
Aloe aristata var. parvifolia
Aloe aristata is indigenous of South Africa and Lesotho. It’s widespread in the Northern and Eastern Cape of South Africa, in the Karoo region. It’s a really adaptable species, inhabiting from dry, sandy environments of Nama Karoo, to the colder slopes and grasslands of Lesotho.
Aloe aristata is a little, stemless evergreen perennial plant. The name “Aristata” means “pointed”, because of its sharp, pointed leaves, which become even more pointed when the plant is in the condition of lack of water. It’s a dense rosette of 50-60 leaves, with a diameter of 10-15 centimeters. Leaves are bright green, lanceolate, pointed, with white teeth upon their whole surface. Inflorescence is a not really dense raceme, or cluster, of tubular, pinkish orange flowers, 3-4 centimeters long. Clusters develop on a long stem, which can become upon 75 centimeters tall.
Aloe plants generally require a sandy, well-drained soil, but Aloe aristata can tolerate a wide range of soil moistures, inhabiting environments with differents amounts of rainfalls. Due to its adaptation to the Lesotho mountain tops, it’s also surprisingly tolerant to cold temperatures (until -7ºC!), so, in temperate climates with not particularly cold winters it can be cultivated outdoors. During the growth season, water it abundantly when the soil turns completely dry, but try not to wet the leaves, which are particularly sensitive to rot. In winter, watering can be completely avoided. Aloe species generally prefer to be exposed to sunlight.
The preferred, easiest way to propagate Aloe aristata is from its many offsets.
Aloe-based products (and in particular Aloe Vera varieties) have been experiencing a period of intense commercial exploitation for some years, which is only partially justified by the actual plant properties.