Aloe ferox

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Aloe ferox
Aloe ferox 1.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asphodelaceae
Subfamily: Asphodeloideae
Genus: Aloe
Species: A. ferox
Binomial name
Aloe ferox
  • Aloe candelabrum A.Berger nom. illeg.
  • Aloe galpinii Baker
  • Aloe horrida Haw.
  • Aloe muricata Haw.
  • Aloe pallancae Guillaumin nom. inval.
  • Aloe perfoliata var. ferox (Mill.) Aiton
  • Aloe pseudoferox Salm-Dyck
  • Aloe subferox Spreng.
  • Aloe supralaevis Haw.
  • Busipho ferox (Mill.) Salisb. nom. inval.
  • Pachidendron ferox (Mill.) Haw.
  • Pachidendron pseudoferox (Salm-Dyck) Haw.
  • Pachidendron supralaeve (Haw.) Haw.

Aloe ferox (known as the Cape Aloe,[2][3] Bitter Aloe,[2][4] Red Aloe[4] and Tap Aloe),[2] is a species of arborescent aloe indigenous to southern Africa.[3][5] It is one of several Aloe species used to make bitter aloes, a purgative medication,[2] and also yields a non-bitter gel that can be used in cosmetics.[4]


Aloe ferox.JPG
Spines on the inner side of a leaf

Aloe ferox is a tall, single-stemmed aloe, that can grow to 10 feet (3.0 m) in height. Its leaves are thick and fleshy, arranged in rosettes, and have reddish-brown spines on the margins with smaller spines on the upper and lower surfaces. The leaf surfaces of young plants are covered in spines, however, as they get taller and less vulnerable to grazing, the leaves begin to lose most of their spines except for those along the leaf margins.

Its flowers are orange or red, and stand between 2 and 4 feet (0.61 and 1.22 m) above the leaves, in multi-branched inflorescences.[4]

It is a variable species, and plants may differ physically from area to area, due to local conditions. This aloe is frequently confused with the related Aloe excelsa species, to the north, and they do look very similar when fully grown. However the flowers are different, with the racemes of Aloe excelsa being far shorter and slightly curved.[2]

Aloe ferox on the R61 route between Cofimvaba and Ngcobo.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Aloe ferox is indigenous to South Africa's Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, and Lesotho. Its large natural range forms a near-continuous band across the southern Cape, from almost as far as Cape Town, eastwards as far as southern KwaZulu-Natal.

Within this range, it can be found on rocky hills, in grassy fynbos and on the edges of the Karoo.[4]


Aloe ferox plants are propagated mainly from seed and head cuttings, with plants sowed with approximately one meter separations. From seed, it takes about 4 to 5 years for the plants to reach the first harvest. At the time of harvest, each leaf weighs about 1.5 kg to 2 kg. Aloe ferox prefers dry-tropical climates, open areas, sandy-loamy soils, full sun, and moderate watering with a good drainage system.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Aloe ferox". Floridata. Archived from the original on 1 May 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "The Aloe ferox Plant". Aloe Ferox Africa. Retrieved 14 May 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Aloe ferox Mill.". PlantzAfrica. Archived from the original on 7 May 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2009. 
  5. ^ "Aloe ferox, African Flowering Plants Database". South African National Biodiversity Institute. Retrieved 14 May 2009.