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Indigenous Aloes that flower in Summer

It's a clever idea to have some Aloes flowering throughout the year so that the sunbirds and the butterflies will have nectar throughout the year.

Aloe cooperi

(Coopers Aloe)

This evergreen groundcover is frost resistant and grows happily in the sun. The orange flowers occur in summer and they attract birds. It is useful for containers. This is a grassland specie which copes well in moist places and is beautiful in the garden. The leaf sap is used medicinally as a laxative. The word Aloe comes from the Greek and refers to the bitter leaf gel. This is a protected plant in South Africa.

Aloe tenuior now Aloimpelos tenuior

(No common name)

This aloe grows into a large bush with stems up to 2 meters. There are red and yellow flowering forms and seem to flower on and off throughout the year, peaking in winter. Its natural distribution is from the Eastern Cape, through Kwazulu Natal and Swaziland into Mpumalanga. It’s a useful plant to fill a gap in a large garden. It is medicinal as root decoctions are used to treat tapeworm. The word Aloe comes from the Greek and refers to the bitter leaf gel.

Aloe zebrina

(No common name)

This Aloe spreads rapidly to form dense stands. It occurs in the full sun in the northern part of South Africa. The flowers are pink/dull red and occur in summer. It is a stem less aloe which has spotted leaves that tend to merge and form stripes. It does have medicinal uses as the dried , powdered leaves and stems are used as a cleansing drink after childbirth, and the roots are used as a yellow dye to colour baskets.

Aloe now Aristaloe aristata

(Serelei, Long-awned Aloe)

The common name which means ‘the slippery one’ whereas aristata means ’awned’ which refers to the awn- like leaf tips. It is very frost hardy as it occurs in the coldest parts of the country, the mountains of Lesotho and the Karoo where there is often snow. The leaves have numerous white spots and it is often confused with Haworthia. It’s a little, low growing Aloe which would look great with succulents in a rockery. It's height is only 15 cm whereas the flower spike is 50cm tall. In full fun they are a deep red whereas in the shade they are a pale pink. The orange red flowers open in November, December. The wild populations are being depleted as it is a muthi plant. They are either planted on the roof of the homestead or the leaf is crushed in water which is sprinkled around the house for security and preventing strange men from visiting the house when the husband is away. The word Aloe comes from the Greek and refers to the bitter leaf gel.

Aloe ferox

(Bitter Aloe, Bitteraalwyn)

This evergreen aloe is happy in the sun, in summer rainfall areas that receive little or no frost. It occurs from the Cape, Kwazulu Natal, Free State and Lesotho. Often seen on rocky mountain slopes. It was first utilised and painted on rocks by the Khoi. Ferox means fierce and refers to the spiky leaves. The beautiful orange-red flowers occur in winter and attract birds, insects and butterflies. Children, monkeys and baboon who suck the nectar which is said to be narcotic. It is single-stemmed, grows to 3.5 meters and is quite dramatic in flower. This Aloe was first introduced to Europe in 1700. It is medicinal and the healing sap is exported for the medicine trade. The dried sap has been exported since 1760 It is used as a laxative and to treat arthritis, rheumatism, hypertension and stress. It is also used in hair and skin cream products. It is often used as a skin lightening gel. It is rich in amino acids and minerals. Don't use this medicine during pregnancy. The leaf sap is used to treat burns. The chopped leaves and a bucket of wild rosemary and khaki bos are left over night to steep in boiling water and this water is used to bath dogs as a tick repellent. The leaves are browsed. They are also made into a delicious jam which is similar to watermelon jam. It is used in a rockery but is very slow growing. It is wind tolerant so is suitable for coastal gardens. The word Aloe comes from the Greek and refers to the bitter leaf gel.

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