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Plant Highlight: Aloe glauca

December 2004

Aloe glauca is one of the many species in the genus which come from South Africa. It occurs in the Western part of the country, from east of Cape Town northward to nearly the Namibian border. This is the winter-rainfall area of South Africa, and although a few populations of the species are known from far enough inland to get summer rain, the great majority get most of their rain in winter. This, in combination with its ease of culture and resistance to frost, makes Aloe glauca an excellent plant for California gardens.

The term “glauca” refers to the milky blue-green color of the leaves. On close examination, it can be seen that these are also striped with many narrow lengthwise lines, a trait it has in common with its close relative Aloe lineata. The flowers of the two species, usually red-orange to salmon-orange in color, are nearly identical. In both, the flower spike is never branched.

Though some forms of Aloe glauca develop a short stem in time, the southern form pictured here remains stemless. Its attractive compact rosettes of bluish leaves produce offsets, so that a clump is formed in time. This form is also notable for its long flowering season; our plant often puts out a succession of flower spikes over a good portion of the year, from autumn through to spring.