The wild habitat of Aloe brevifolia is nowadays almost only present in the dry clay soils “Renosterveld”. The Renostelved is the name given to the one of the largest community of species of plants and animals in South Africa, specifically in the southwestern and the southeastern parts of South Africa. This ecoregion of Mediterranean forests and scrublands is threatened and it’s relentlessly disappearing. Although Aloe brevifolia is really popular as an ornamental plant in our gardens, it’s considered as a vulnerable species in its natural environment.
Aloe brevifolia is a stemless, perennial plant. “Brevifolia” is a latin word which refers to this plant’s particularly short leaves, if compared to other plants in the genus “Aloe”. Old plants develop a 3-4 centimeters long stem. Leaves are lanceolate, densely grouped in a rosette, pale blue-green-glaucous, with prickles on their margins. Inflorescence is a relatively tall, unbranched stem ending in a dense raceme or cluster of bright red, tubular flowers. Blossoming period occurs in November.
As all the other Aloes, Aloe brevifolia requires a well-drained soil and a sunny position. An important thing to remember is that this plant is adapted to the winterfall Mediterrean regime, namely, it’s used to receive water through winter rains in its natural environment, unlike other Aloes. So it’s important to water it also in winter, trying not to wet the leaves, which are particularly sensitive to rot. Water it also in summer, but wait until the soil is completely dry before each watering. It doesn’t tolerate temperatures below -4ºC.
The easiest way to propagate almost all the species of Aloe, and also Aloe brevifolia, is to take off and replant its numerous 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.