Aloe polyphylla

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Aloe polyphylla
Aloe-Polyphylla-Lesotho.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae
Subfamily: Asphodeloideae
Genus: Aloe
Species: A. polyphylla
Binomial name
Aloe polyphylla

Aloe polyphylla (spiral aloe, kroonaalwyn, lekhala kharetsa) is a species in the genus Aloe that is endemic to the Kingdom of Lesotho in the Drakensberg mountains. It is well known for its strikingly symmetrical, five-pointed spiral growth habit.

Name and taxonomy[edit]

Aloe polyphylla is commonly known as the spiral aloe in English, kroonaalwyn in Afrikaans, or lekhala kharatsa in Sesotho. The species epithet polyphylla means "many-leaved" in Greek.

Taxonomically, it forms part of the Rhodacanthae series of very closely related Aloe species, together with Aloe glauca, Aloe lineata and Aloe pratensis.[1]

Description[edit]

Spiral formed by leaves.

Aloe polyphylla is a stemless aloe and grows its leaves in a very distinctive spiral shape. The plants do not seem to sucker or produce off-shoots, but from the germination of their seeds they can form small, dense clumps. The fat, wide, serrated, gray-green leaves have sharp, dark leaf-tips.

This aloe flowers at the beginning of summer, producing red-to-pink flowers at the head of robust, branched inflorescences.

Habitat[edit]

The spiral aloe grows in high, mountainous, grassy slopes. Here it clings to rocky crevices and well-drained scree slopes. The climate is cool in the summer and in the winter the aloes are often covered in deep snow. The region also has a very high rainfall and this moisture is augmented by the clouds which engulf the Lesotho mountain peaks.

Conservation[edit]

The species is highly sought after as an ornamental but is difficult to cultivate and usually soon dies if removed from its natural habitat. In South Africa, buying or collecting the plant is a criminal offense.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Reynolds, G.W. 1950. The aloes of Southern Africa. Balkema, Cape Town.
  2. ^ "Aloe polyphylla Schonl. ex Pillans". PlantzAfrica. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 

External links[edit]