Plant Highlights

Plant Highlights By Date Plant Highlights Alphabetically

Plant Highlight: Aloe suprafoliata

January 2007

Aloe suprafoliata is a single-headed stemless species from northeastern South Africa and the adjacent nation of Swaziland, with glaucous unmarked leaves edged with firm teeth.

The rosettes of leaves attain a diameter of about 2 feet (.6 m), and under dry conditions they may take on a brick-red tinge.  The pointed inflorescence is unbranched, but one plant may produce several of them.  When the buds are still small, they are hidden by overlapping bracts which have a silvery bloom.  The mature flowers are red or pinkish-red, slender and cylindrical.  They are up to 2 inches long (5 cm), among the longest of all aloe species.  Flowering time is in winter, commencing in November or December.

The specific name “suprafoliata” refers to the leaves of young plants, which are stacked one on top of the other all in one plane.  This is known as a distichous leaf arrangement, but at maturity the leaves form a whorl as other aloes typically do.

Aloe suprafoliata makes an excellent garden subject, as long as it has plenty of sun, good drainage, and a modest amount of water during its growing season in summer.  It is able to withstand freezing temperatures down to at least the low twenties Fahrenheit (-6° C).