|Aloe barberae. This specimen is about three metres high (note the bench at the base of the plant)|
Aloe barberae (syn. Aloe bainesii), also known as Tree aloe, is a species of aloe native to South Africa. In its native climes this slow-growing tree can reach up to 18 m (54 ft) high and 0.9 m (3 ft) in stem diameter. Aloe barberae is Africa's largest aloe. The tree aloe is often used as an ornamental plant. Its tubular flowers are rose pink (green-tipped); it flowers in winter and in its natural environment is pollinated by sunbirds.
Aloe barberae was first discovered by Mary Elizabeth Barber, who was a plant collector in the former Transkei. She sent specimens of the plant and its flowers to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, where in 1874 it was named by William Turner Thiselton-Dyer (1843–1928) in her honor. Subsequently, it was also found in KwaZulu-Natal by the well known traveller, explorer and painter Thomas Baines in 1873. He also sent a specimen to Kew, where it was named Aloe bainesii. Although known as A. baineii for many years, Aloe barberae was the name first given to this plant, and takes precedence according to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.
The tree aloe's habitat is subtropical coastal forests, kloofs (ravines) and dry valleys in the eastern regions of southern Africa. Aloe barberae is widely distributed from the Eastern Cape through the former Transkei, KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland and Mpumalanga; and northwards to Mozambique and East Africa.
Growing Aloe barberae
Aloe barberae forms a striking focal point in the garden, being an enormous sculptural tree with a neat crown.
It is easily propagated, especially by cuttings (truncheons) which should be left to dry for a week or two before planting. It prefers well-drained soil, especially on a slope, and can tolerate some shade when small. It should not be planted directly next to any buildings as its trunk and roots become enormous.
A popular and hardy hybrid with another tree aloe, Aloe dichotoma, is often propagated for landscaping under the name "Aloe x hercules".
The Tree Aloe in Cape Town's Company Gardens.
Its massive size can cause one to forget that aloes are not true trees.
A young Aloe barberae, Kirstenbosch.
- BBC Gardening: Aloe bainesii
- "Aloe barberae". Plantz Afrika. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
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