FloraFinder.org
Home   About Us   Want to Help?   FAQ  
Searching   Image Use Biblio

Aloe ferox

Aloe ferox Mill.

Bitter Aloe, Red Aloe, Cape Aloe

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassLiliidaeIncludes lilies, orchids, and many others
OrderAsparagalesA diverse group that includes asparagus
FamilyXanthorrhoeaceaeAloes, many tropical plants, flax lilies, daylilies, many others
GenusAloeMeans “goddess” in ancient Sanskrit, for its reputed use as a beauty aid
SpeciesferoxFerocious, very thorny

About plant names...

The name of this species, ferox, refers to the “fer­oc­iousness” of the fiery flowers and the sharp, unforgiving leaves. It is native to South Africa, and not found in the wild in North America.

Identification: Plants are treelike in shape, with a stem clothed in dead aloe leaves, and reach 10' (3 m) in height. The leaves are bluish-green, with leaf tips sometimes appearing red in very dry weather. Leaves are serrated and crescent-shaped in cross section, forming a rosette atop a trunk. Flowers form tall yellow to orange-red spikes 24-48" (60-121 cm) above the leaf cluster. There are five to ten flower stalks per aloe. See the Aloe comparison table.

Medical: Unsubstantiated health claims abound for this plant. The only substantiated one that I could find was that it compared reasonably well with senna-based preparations as a laxative. As an example of the dubious claims about Aloe ferox:

”Over 130 biological active compounds of the aloe ferox have so far been reported. The Aloe ferox leaf contains substances such as amino acids, minerals, vitamins, polysaccharides, glycoproteins, anthraquinones, enzymes, lignin, chlorophyll, saponins, sterols and other plant chemicals with numerous medicinal activities.”[1]

Sounds impressive, right? At least until you consider the fact that every single one of these substances is part of all plants! These are among the more common of the roughly 30,000 compounds that are found in a typical plant. (If you’re a professional botanist with a tendency to nitpick, you may be thinking ‘Wait! Anthraquinone! That’s not in every plant.’ True, though it is hard to see how a substance that is used as a building block in the creation of certain artificial dyes would make you healthier.)

Online References:

Aloe ferox on FLORIDATA

Aloe ferox on the South African National Biodiversity Institute's web site, plantzafrica.com

Aloe ferox at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

Aloe ferox on ARKive: Images of Life on Earth

Aloe ferox on the Succulent Plant Page

Aloe ferox on PROTA: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa

Aloe ferox (Bitter Aloe, Red Aloe, Cape Aloe)

2/24/2010 · San Diego (Quail) Botanic Garden, Encinitas, CA

Aloe ferox (Bitter Aloe, Red Aloe, Cape Aloe)

9/20/2014 · South Africa · By Benjamin Winslow ID is dubious

1From a web site that markets Aloe ferox.

Aloe ferox description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 30 Jun 2017.

© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.


 

Aloe ferox (Bitter Aloe, Red Aloe, Cape Aloe)

This is a hybrid. · 5/25/2009 · Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, AZ
≈ 3 × 4½' (97 × 146 cm)

Aloe ferox (Bitter Aloe, Red Aloe, Cape Aloe)

7/7/2017 · South Africa · By Benjamin Winslow ID is dubious

Aloe ferox (Bitter Aloe, Red Aloe, Cape Aloe)

7/4/1998 · Antigua ID is uncertain

Aloe ferox (Bitter Aloe, Red Aloe, Cape Aloe)

4/11/1979 · Huntington Library Cactus Gardens, San Marino, CA ID is uncertain

Aloe ferox (Bitter Aloe, Red Aloe, Cape Aloe)

7/7/2017 · South Africa · By Benjamin Winslow ID is dubious

Aloe ferox (Bitter Aloe, Red Aloe, Cape Aloe)

4/11/1979 · Huntington Library Cactus Gardens, San Marino, CA ID is uncertain

Range: Zones 9-11:

About this map...