On topic: Aloe

Aqua Flora SA aquaflorasa@telkomsa.net
Tue, 18 Aug 2009 05:38:53 PDT
Dear Justin et al,

"Bulbous" Aloes are a curious group of succulent plants! There are
several more species than the three Pamela mentions and not all are
Grass Aloes.

Firstly, for those interested, Ben-Eric van Wyk and Gideon Smith's book,
Guide to the Aloes of South Africa, is indeed an excellent reference for
gardeners, but for the serious enthusiast there are two other, more
authorative, books on the subject: G.W. Reynolds, The Aloes of Tropical
Africa and Madagascar, and G.W. Reynolds, The Aloes of South Africa.
Both of these are long out of print, but generally not too difficult to
obtain. There is also a third book of newer vintage dealing specifically
with the Grass Aloes of South Africa in great depth: Charles Craib,
Grass Aloes in the South African Veld, with superb paintings by Gillian

Aloe modesta, A. kniphofioides and A. inconspicua are the only South
African Grass Aloes with "bulbs", most of the other species produce
short branching stems, above or bellow the ground, which are not at all

I have grown both A. modesta and A. kniphofioides, and both species
require a very well drained medium and a relatively dry dormancy when
their leaves wither. I have only managed to flower A. modesta once and
the flowers were indeed strongly fragrant, but in my opinion smelled
like cloves and not at all like cinnamon... a feature for which it is
well worth cultivating!

As I've mentioned there are other "bulbous" Aloes, such as Aloe
richardsiae (Tanzania), A. bullockii (Tanzania) and A. buettneri
(widesperead across Angola, Ghana, Nigeria, DRC, Togo etc.) and
doubtless others I can't recall right now. I have heard that many of
these are difficult to maintain in cultivation; that is if you can find
material in the first place!

Hoping to have broadened your horizons!

Happy growing!

Pieter van der Walt

Brits, South Africa, where on the bulbs scene Cyrtanthus mackenii is
blooming it's head of, Scadoxus puniceus 'Natalensis' is starting to
open, Scadoxus nutans is in full flower!

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