Aloe cooperi is a South African grassland aloe. It was discovered
by Burchell in his early travels in South Africa and was rediscovered
by Thomas Cooper, after whom it was named. It occurs in moist habitats
and in dry rocky areas, mainly in Natal, Swaziland and Mpumalanga.
Aloe cooperi grows singly or in small groups from offshoots
at ground level. Plants may be stemless or short stemmed up to 15cm
high. The leaves are often yellowish green with the upper surface
usually unspotted, though occasionally they have a few white spots
lower down. The inflorescence is simple and bold. The flowers of
Aloe cooperi vary in colour from greenish-cream to apricot
and salmon pink.
occurs from December near the coast and January or February inland.
Aloe cooperi subsp cooperi is not threatened but the
conservation status of Aloe cooperi subsp pulchra
is insufficiently known. Young shoots and flowers are cooked and
eaten as vegetables by the Zulu people. The Zulu people also believe
that the smoke from burning leaves of Aloe cooperi in the
cattle kraal will protect the cattle from the ill effects of eating
Cooper's aloe also attracts nectar feeding birds such as sunbirds
and makes a striking addition to a flower bed.
Growing Aloe cooperi
Aloe cooperi grows well in cultivation. In warm areas the
leaves remain evergreen but in cold climates they die back in winter
and for this reason it is also regarded as a good waterwise garden
plant as it needs no watering in winter.
Propagate Aloe cooperi from seed sown in a seedling growth
media mixture of sifted potting soil and river sand (1:1). Treat
the seed mixture with fungicides to prevent damping-off which is
a common problem when growing aloes from seed. Seedlings should
be planted in small pots using sandy well drained soil.
Thompson T Mutshinyalo
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden