Aloe rupestris (A
It is a rare and unusual aloe in cultivation. The plant is
reportedly one of the fastest tree aloes, so if you want a spectacular
flowering tree aloe this is the one you want they say.
Description: Aloe rupestris is a robust
fast growing mostly single stemmed tree aloe with very showy flowers. It
can grow usually up to 3 m tall (max. 8 m tall) Offsetting forms have
been favoured in cultivation.
Stem: Thick, shaggy below, with withered and blackened remains of
leaves clothing the upper part, naked on the lower part. The stem often
needs support. In habitat it grows in bushes or next to a tree which
gives support. The
pith is soft, light and spongy.
Roots: It has a spread-root-system the roots are somewhat fleshy.
Leaves: In a compact spiralled rosette
at the stem apex in old plants, but in juvenile
plants they are ranked in vertical rows. They are strap-like,
spreading and recurved, lamina up to about 70 cm long, 7–10 cm wide at
the base, lanceolate-attenuate, deeply channelled, dull dark green,
smooth, without spots; margin reddish, with pungent deltoid
reddish-brown teeth 3–5 mm long and 10–15 mm apart.
Flowers: What is remarkable about this species are its 1 or 2
candelabra-form inflorescences up to 1.25 m tall above the leaf rosette
that bear 6-15 or more erect, cylindrical racemes. These are densely
packed with very showy yellowish tubular buds that open to become
completely overshadowed by the brilliant orange-red, 15 mm exserted
stamens. Peduncle stout. The stamens give a very attractive effect. The
orange-yellow opening to lemon-yellow perianth has an
cylindrical-ellipsoid tube 18–20 mm long, approx 4 mm in diameter across
the ovary, widening to 7 mm at the middle and narrowing slightly toward
the mouth, with overlapping segments spreading only at the tips Three
outer lobes swollen at the base. Ovary somewhat 3-angled. Anthers
orange, stigma orange.
Blooming season: Blooms later than most aloes.
Leaves are deep green, unspotted and
bordered by red teeth and form a spiralled
rosette at the stem apex in old plants, but in
juvenile plants they are ranked in vertical rows.
grows well in cultivation, provided it has frost protection.
Aloe rupestris Baker
Common Names include: Bottlebrush Aloe, Rosary
Origin: Aloe rupetris has a wide distribution from
Natal, S. Africa, north to Swaziland and southern Mozambique
Habitat: Grows in the summer
rainfall area in hot valleys among coastal forest and bushland on sandy
soils or over the sun-burned hills on rocky slopes and ridges and cling
along low broken sandstone ledges.
Etymology: The specific epithet 'rupestris'
means ‘growing in rocky places’ and refers to its habitat.
- Aloe nitens
- Aloe pycnacantha
Notes: A. rupestris resembles the related A. thraskii
and A. excelsa, which also produce rather top-heavy
rosettes atop stems clothed in their upper part with a skirt of
persistent dried leaves. The racemes of A. excelsa are
sloping and the plant is more common. A. thraskii has
leaves that are more strongly recurved.
to grow, requiring very little care. It can be grown in large
containers. Always use a good quality, loamy sandy soil with plenty of
drainage chips at the bottom of containers. It tolerates weekly watering
in the summer; once a month, or not at all in the colder months of
December and January. Can withstand long periods of drought, but they
will thrive and flower more profusely if watered in the correct season.
Incorrect watering, poor drainage or too much shade can lead to attack
by pests and diseases. They can take a few degrees of frost in winter as
well, but prefer hot summers. It grows much better outdoors in spring
In mild climates it can be cultivated outdoors for use in landscaping,
preferably planting it in hot and dry rock gardens. They will grow best
in regions with a climate close to that of their native deserts
not too cold, and not too wet.
They grow slowly, but not agonisingly so being able to increase their
height by 10- 30 (or more) cm per year under favourable conditions.
exclusively by seeds planted in autumn, in trays of coarse river sand.
Truncheons (if available) can also be used for propagation. Truncheons
must be dried out for at least 3 weeks before planting in river sand.
This is quite a difficult alternative and success is not always
- Gardening: This tree can be grown in large, rocky, well-drained
soil in gardens in drier areas. It is very drought
resistant but susceptible to frost.