Naming and taxonomy
The species was described by Adrian Hardy Haworth. Its species name "aristata" comes from the Latin for "bristly" or "awned", and refers to the lacy edges of the leaves.
Recent phylogenetic studies have demonstrated that the Aloe genus is polyphyletic and that this unusual species is not in fact an Aloe, but is more closely related to the Astrolobas and to the four "Robustipedunculares" species of Haworthia. It has therefore been proposed that it be separated into its own genus "Aristaloe", to account for its separate ancestry and genetic uniqueness.
It is stemless, sawtoothed and succulent. The soft succulent leaves grow in rosettes, and are lanceolate with bristly margins.
Its nectar-rich, tubular orange flowers tend to attract birds, bees, and wasps easily. When not in bloom, it is similar to and often confused with some Haworthia species, such as Haworthia fasciata.
It is indigenous to South Africa and Lesotho. Its natural range extends from the Karoo region of the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape Provinces of South Africa, eastwards through the Orange Free State and Lesotho, as far as the borders of Kwazulu-Natal Province.
Within such a wide range, this adaptable little species inhabits a range of environments, from the dry, sandy Nama Karoo, to the high grasslands and cold mountain slopes of Lesotho, and the shady forested valleys of KwaZulu-Natal.
It is commonly cultivated as a garden plant around the world. It prefers well-drained soils, but can tolerate a range of rainfall systems. It can also tolerate temperatures down to -7°C, due to its adaptation to cold mountain tops. However it may need to be grown indoors or under glass in extremely cold temperate regions, to give it some winter heat. This clumping species readily produces large numbers of off-sets, which can be separated and planted as a means of propagation.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aloe aristata.|
- Manning, J.C., Boatwright, J.S., Daru, B.H., Maurin, O. and Van der Bank, M. 2014. A molecular phylogeny and generic classification of Asphodelaceae subfamily Alooideae: A final resolution of the prickly issue of polyphyly in the Alooids?. Systematic Botany 39(1):55-74.
- Succulents Info page - Aloe aristata
- Aloe aristata on SANBI Redlist page
- "RHS Plant Selector - Aloe aristata". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
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