Aloe tenuior Haw.

Family: Asphodelaceae
Common name:
iKhalana (Xhosa)

Aloe tenuior

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 red flowers.

Bee and flower of A. tenuiorPlants 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, Cape Town.


Isabel Johnson
Natal National Botanical Garden
August 2002

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