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Aloe ferox

Cape Aloe, Bitter Aloe

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Aloe ferox (Cape Aloe, Bitter Aloe)

Aloe ferox
Aloe ferox

Aloe ferox is a tall, single stemmed Aloe up to 10 ft tall with a wide distribution in the South African Cape, Southern KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho and the Free State, in grasslands and bush in both Summer and Winter rainfall areas.
Left: Aloe ferox flowering at the Kokerboomkwekery, Van Rhynsdorp, RSA. Xmas 1998
The large 3ft, tapering, fleshy, grey-green succulent leaves with reddish-brown toothed margins are arranged in a dense rosette. Teeth may be present on the leaf surfaces, especially in immature plants. Old leaves remain as protective felting on the stem, leading to a rather untidy appearance.
The flowers in various shades of orange are carried well above the leaves on candelabra-like heads with up to ten dense flower spikes. Copious production of nectar makes the flowers attractive to birds, insects and monkeys.
Left: Aloe ferox in scrub near Robertson, RSA. Xmas 1998

Aloe ferox

Aloe ferox is the source of "Bitter Aloes," the yellow juice from just under the skin, which is a powerful purgative. The gel within the middle of the succulent leaves has similar soothing properties to that of A. vera.
Aloe ferox is an impressive feature plant for a Mediterranean climate, or as a container plant if it can be given Winter protection. However it is grown, it needs full sun and free-draining soil to prosper.
Left: Aloe ferox on typical habitat of rocky slopes, near Robertson, RSA. Xmas 1998. Note large invasive Opuntia sp. middle left.