Aloe saponaria var. latifolia

Aloe saponaria var. latifolia

Aloe saponaria var. latifolia

Beautiful dark green leaves with distinctive white spots and coarsely-toothed margins; foliage sometimes has reddish tinge.
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Description

Beautiful dark green leaves with distinctive white spots and coarsely-toothed margins;  foliage sometimes has reddish tinge. 

Family: Asphodelaceae

Scientific name:  Aloe saponaria var. saponaria

Origin Widespread in the arid regions from Eastern Cape Province of South Africa to Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

Vernacular names include: Soap aloe, Zebra aloe

Etymology:

 

Synonyms:  

  • Aloe maculata
  • Aloe latifolia
  • Aloe saponaria var. ficksburgensis
  • Aloe saponaria var. brachyphylla
  • Aloe leptophylla
  • Aloe leptophylla var. stenophylla
  • Aloe umbellata
  • Aloe saponaria var. latifolia
  • Aloe saponaria
  • Aloe perfoliata var. saponaria
  • Aloe perfoliata var. lambda
  • Aloe perfoliata var. theta
  • Aloe maculosa
  • Aloe disticha

Beautiful dark green leaves with distinctive white spots and coarsely-toothed margins; foliage sometimes has reddish tinge.  This aloe is very tolerant of drought, although the tips of the leaves may wither and curl during hot, dry periods. 

Description: Soap aloe grows in a (usually) stemless, clumping rosette, that often overgrown in succulent gardens. The main rosette gets up to 30/45cm tall and just as wide. The lance-shaped leaves are thick pale green spotted (with linear spots- almost streaked) foliage sometimes has reddish tinge and 25-30 cm long. The leaf margins are armed with prominent dark brown teeth.
Flowers: Throughout much of the summer, soap aloe sends up a purplish elegantly elaborate candelabrum-like stalk about 60/90 m tall, bearing showy tubular yellow, orange or red flowers (first bloom is best). Flowers are often, but not always branched and flowers head is a flatted globe in shape. Individual flowers are 5-7cm long.

NOTE: The sap from the juicy leaves makes suds in water and can be used as a soap substitute, but contrarily to the medicinal A. barbadensis (A. vera), its sap should not be used on the wound skin, as it is irritating and can provoke dermatitis in sensitive people.

Cultivation: Very easy to grow and adaptable need a mineral soil with good drainage.
Light: Full sun to partial shade. Plants grown in partial shade usually look healthier and more succulent.
Moisture: This aloe is very tolerant of drought, although the tips of the leaves may wither and curl during hot, dry periods. Supplemental watering will keep the leaves plump and juicy.
Hardiness: It is damaged in hard freezes, but recovers quickly. The leaf tips get damaged below -2°C.
Maintenance: Removal of old flower stalks; Divide the crowded clumps periodically. During the winter months, the plants should be grown cool to initiate flower development (about 5-10°C )

Propagation: By division of offshoots that develop around the outside of the main rosette in spring or by seed. Fresh seeds germinate quickly at 18°C.

Uses:

Gardening: This aloe can be grown in large, rocky, well-drained soil in gardens in drier areas. It is very drought resistant but susceptible to frost. Aloe saponaria adapts well to a variety of soils and climates. It makes an excellent ground cover, grows best in a sunny position and makes a long lasting cut flower.

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