Although not well known by name, Aloe arborescens (Krantz Aloe, Kransaalwyn) is probably the most widely grown of all the Aloes. A succulent shrub that can grow up to 2 metres tall with a 3 metre spread, it is one of the most free flowering of all the Aloe species. It can be used effectively as an informal hedge or as a feature plant on its own.
Alternatively under Aloaceae, previously under Liliaceae (in the broad sense).
- Aloe – Uncertain origin, may be of Greek, Arabic, Hebrew or Sanskrit origin.
- arborescens – tree-like, from arbor (Latin) for tree.
Common Names: Krantz aloe, mountain bush aloe (Z) (Eng), kransaalwyn (Afr), sekgopha (Nso), imbovane (Swa), tshikhopha (Ven), unomaweni (Xho) and umhlabana (Zul).
SAF Number: 28.1 Zim. Number: 17
The greyish-green to blue-green succulent leaves are arranged in spreading rosettes at the end of the branches. The flower inflorescences grow from between the leaves in the rosette.
Size: 1 – 2 m (4) by 1 – 3 m
- Individual flowers are tubular and up to 4 cm long.
- Borne in clusters of many flowers at the end of a raceme that may be up to 80 cm long.
- The racemes are mostly simple but some may be branched 2 or even 3 times.
- Usually there is one raceme per rosette of leaves, but can have up to 4 on healthy mature plants.
- Plants in full flower can be very showy.
Colour: Scarlet, orange, yellow or, very rarely, white.
Flowering Months: May – Jul.
Fragrance: Not fragrant.
- Simple, succulent leaves are long (to 70 cm), narrow (7 – 8 cm), tapering to the apex.
- The leaves are arranged in spreading rosettes at the end of branches.
- Leaves are usually a little sickle-shaped
- Leaf margin is lined with conspicuous pale teeth.
- Dull greyish-green to blue-green, may turn reddish when exposed to cold or too much sun.
- Old, dead leaves remain on the plant below the rosette.
- A capsule with 3 compartments that contain many slightly winged seeds.
- Green ripening to light brown.
Bark: Bark is light grey or brown.
- Add valuable, bright colour to gardens in winter when not much else is flowering.
- Plants are attractive even when not in flower, so a good focal plant in a large rockery.
- Often used as a very showy, informal hedge.
- Water-wise plant.
- Can be used close to walls and paving as the roots are not aggressive.
- An essential plant in any ‘wildlife garden’, attracting a variety of birds, bees and other insects.
- Fast growing and plants will start flowering while still quite young.
- A low maintenance plant.
- Feed with organic fertilizer and mulch with compost.
- Protect young plants against the cold in winter.
Cold Hardiness: Hardy.
- Drought hardy, but likes regular water, particularly during summer.
Light Requirements: Full sun or partial shade.
Roots: The roots are not aggressive.
When in full flower, Aloe arborescens is certainly a show stopper.
- Sunbirds and other birds will visit the flowers for the nectar.
- Insect-eating birds are attracted to the insects that hide in the dried leaves.
- Flowers are eaten by some birds.
Insects and Butterflies:
- Very popular with bees as a source for pollen and nectar.
- A pulp made from leaves used to treat burns and wounds, effective against X-ray burns.
Poisonous: Not poisonous.
Notes of interest:
- Aloe arborescens is often used in rural areas as a hedge to protect crops and stock.
- Found in the WC, EC, KZN, Swa, M, L and scattered distribution in Zim and Moz.
- North of southern Africa its range extends into Malawi.
- Savanna-bushveld, thicket and grassland and forest.
- Occurs on cliffs and rocky slopes, in cool and high rainfall conditions.
© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2012 & 2018.