This rambling aloe which occurs naturally in dry thickets from
Eastern Cape and southern KwaZulu-Natal is a useful landscape plant
which forms large clumps topped with masses of delicate yellow or
are small to medium-sized, sprawling shrublets up to 3 m tall, with
leaves tufted at the ends of branches. The leaf margins have small
teeth. Flowers are borne in slender, nodding racemes and may be
red or yellow. Flowering occurs throughout the year, peaking from
early to late winter (May to August in South Africa).
As can be seen in the photograph, the flowers are visited by bees
for their pollen and nectar. There are probably a variety of pollinators.
The leaves are used traditionally as a purgative and tapeworm remedy,
while a bath taken in the foam of the leaves is believed to be a
powerful charm to ensure good luck.
The genus name Aloe comes from the Greek word for the dried
juice of aloe leaves, which in turn was derived from earlier Sanskrit
and Semitic words. The species name tenuior is from the Latin
word for "slender".
In the past this species was subdivided into three subspecies,
but these have now been lumped into one species. Aloe tenuior
is not threatened.
Growing Aloe tenuior
Aloe tenuior grows easily from stem cuttings which should
be allowed to dry for a few days and then planted directly into
the required site. The species grows best where there is adequate
drainage, and while it can withstand dry conditions, will perform
better with regular watering.
Aloes are prone to a number of diseases and pests, the commonest
of which are white scale and the aloe snout beetle. These can be
treated with the appropriate insecticides.
- VAN WYK, B.-E. & SMITH, G.F. 1996. Guide to the aloes of
South Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria.
- MANNING, J. 2001. Eastern Cape. South African Wild Flower Guide
No. 11. Botanical Society of Southern Africa and the National
Botanical Institute, Cape Town.
- REYNOLDS, G.W. 1982. The aloes of South Africa. Balkema,
Natal National Botanical Garden