A guest post by Estie for Notes from Africa
Last month in the post A drive to Hell and back there were some photographs of Aloe Ferox (Bitter Aloe) plants near the Swartberg Pass in the Southern Cape. Estie provides further information and photographs . . .
Wildspread and adaptable
The bitter Aloe can be seen growing wild from the Swellendam area, in the Western Cape, through the Eastern Cape into Southern Kwazulu-Natal. It grows in a wide range of habitats, including mountain slopes, rocky places, flat open places, and is found in grassland, grassy fynbos, on the margins of the Karoo, in both very dry and relatively wet places.
How true this caption (found at Kirstenbosch next to a Bitter Aloe) is. During a recent trip to the Karoo and Eastern Cape, I saw lots of sheep, wild springbok and other antelope, but my eyes registered the Aloe plants you find in the Karoo, Kirstenbosch and in Kommetjie. From nature conservation areas to gardens in the cities.
They are big striking plants and when they are in flower they make such a beautiful display that they have to brighten up your day.
Here they are seen at Kirstenbosch, the famous Botanical Gardens in Cape Town.
Aloe ferox is listed on the CITES list of endangered plants along with other wild species of this genus. So at Kirstenbosch, Aloes are sold at the annual plant sales along with other succulents.
Some more Aloes and succulents for sale . .
Additional Aloe Ferox facts (from Wikipedia)
- The species is indigenous to South Africa and Lesotho.
- The plants can grow to 10 feet (3.0 m) in height.
- What makes the Bitter Aloe so special is not just its beauty, but also its medicinal value. Its leaves contain two juices; the yellow bitter sap is used as a laxative, and the white aloe gel is used in health drinks and skin care products. The sap, however, is toxic to pregnant and breast feeding mothers . . . Read more
- Although the home remedies in which Aloe ferox are used are the same as those of Aloe vera, Aloe ferox is in less demand.