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The Spiral Aloe

Here’s another beautiful Aloe which I have yet to add to my collection.

A. polyphylla is a stemless Aloe with an amazing spiral arrangement of leaves giving it its common name of Spiral Aloe.  Spiral phyllotaxy is common in the plant kingdom packing a maximum number of units into a limited space. The mathematical model which describes this is the Fibonacci series.  The specific epithet, polyphylla, is Greek for ‘many leaves’.  It flowers in early summer producing pink/red flowers, but not until the plant has a minimum of 90 leaves.

It is endemic to the Kingdom of Lesotho in the Drakensberg mountains and is an endangered and protected species listed in CITES Appendix I.  CITES, (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments.  Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

The main threat to this Aloe is illegal collecting from the wild.  It is difficult to cultivate as it doesn’t produce suckers or offsets, restricting propagation to growing from seed.  It does not do well if moved from its usual habitat most likely dying soon after.

 

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2 responses to “The Spiral Aloe

  1. I have never seen this one. It looks absolutely beautiful. We have the ‘enormous’ variety here in France, silver green or variegated, and a smaller version with long spiky leaves and creamy spots on its leaves. The large variety (sorry don’t know its botanical name) grows like a wild thing, with plantlets appearng everywhere around it in the soil, but the smaller one (used medicinally) we found very difficult to overwinter, and eventually gave up. It will be interesting to see if you can source a plant, and if it survives.

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