ISI 2007-13. Aloe ‘Hellskloof Bells’ Trager

In the summer of 1991, Brian Kemble, noted student of the genus Aloe, created this uncommon hybrid of two species from South Africa’s Mediterranean climate. The seed parent was the red-flowered form of A. pearsonii, a species many find difficult to grow and flower. It forms spectacular colonies of erect, columnar branches covered with red-blushed leaves, in the Hellskloof, a montane region of the Richtersveld in the N. Cape. The pollen parent was the related A. distans, an easier species from the coast with more freely produced, larger heads of flowers. I suggested the cultivar name ‘Hellskloof Bells’, a play on the term “hell’s bells”. Webster’s defines the term as “an interjection to indicate vexation or surprise”. The surprise was mine as this was the first hybrid of A. pearsonii I had seen. Another allusion suggested by the cultivar name is to the beautiful romantic tune from The Music Man that Paul McCartney re-recorded for a younger generation: “There were bells in the hills, but I never heard them ringing” (until Brian made the cross). These are two species that would never have come together except by the hand of a creative hybridizer. A final allusion is to the pendent (bell-like) flowers. The five seedlings resulting from this cross are vegetatively quite uniform. Of the two clones illustrated here one is red flowered, the other paler. We have been too busy propagating the third clone, offered here, to have flowered it. Time will tell where its flowers will fall on the color spectrum. Rooted cuts of HBG 95206. $10.

Photo © 2007 by Brian Kemble. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 79 (2), March - April, 2007