ISI 2008-10. Aloe rupestris Baker

This species ranges from Natal, S. Africa, north to Swaziland and southern Mozambique and grows among coastal forest or rocky slopes, as the epithet rupestris—“growing in rocky places”—implies. It forms mostly solitary, arborescent specimens to 8 m tall, though offsetting forms have been favored in cultivation. In habit it 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. What is remarkable about this species is its candelabraform inflorescences that bear up to 15 or more erect, cylindrical racemes. These are densely packed with yellowish buds that open to become completely overshadowed by the brilliant orange, exserted stamens. The effect is very much like the Australian Proteaceae in the genus Banksia. HBG 91572, plants grown from seed collected in Swaziland. $8.

Photo © 2008 by John N. Trager. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 80 (2), March - April, 2008