Aloe erinacea


Aloe melanacantha var. erinacea


A. erinacea is native to Namibia where the plant grows in very arid areas in rocky and sandy soils and can spread up to 1350 m of altitude.


A. erinacea is a winter-growing species belonging to the Aloeaceae botanical family. The plant is stemless and forms a rosette of leaves. The habit is decumbent and can reach up to 50 cm tall. The leaves are pale grayish-green, long, lanceolate, curved inwards. The leaves are armed with long and sharp black and reddish spines. Blooming occurs in summer but not first of the 25th year from sowing. The flowers are red and tubular and the fruits is a capsule that when ripe split and spread the seeds. The seeds are winged and small.


This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 6°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.


Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.


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.

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