Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Plant Profile: Aloiampelos (Aloe) striatula

Latin name: Aloiampelos striatula ("al-oy-am-PEL-oss stree-ah-TOO-lah")
Common name: Hardy Aloe
Originally from: south of the Karoo region of South Africa
Blooms: brilliant yellow inflorescence rises above the foliage typically in late spring into summer
Light: Full sun.
Water: Winter rain is enough.
Height x width: 6' x 6' and bigger
Zones: 8a to 10b
Where to find in P. Garden: The middle front and middle back beds have examples of this great Aloe (Aloiampelos!)

Aloes come in all shapes and sizes, from little grass-like thingies, all the way up to tree sized beasts. This particular one makes a nice shrub and has clear yellow flowers in late spring, making it a very useful plant to have around.

This particular one used to be called Aloe striatula, but around 2017 the botanists of the world, who like to complicate things (job security?) decided it should be moved into the Aloiampelos genus (combination of 'Aloe' and 'ampelos'=vine or creeper) to go with other climbing aloes. I haven't noticed that climbing trait in this plant, nor did anyone notify me of this change (haha!) so you will see it referred to as Aloe striatula all through this blog.

The plant's Latin species name "striatula" means "little stripes" referring to the thin dark-green stripes that can be seen on the plant's leaf sheaths. Don't mistake it for the similarly named Aloe striata ("coral aloe") though - that's a very different plant.

Aloiampelos striatula naturally occurs in the mountains of the Karoo region of South Africa, between the towns of Graaf-reinet and Queenstown in the Eastern Cape, extending into the Free State and Lesotho. 

It will tolerate a wide range of conditions, and is even known commonly as the "hardy aloe". It will tolerate much colder temperatures than most Aloes and relatives, including frost and even some light snow, but it prefers full sun and well-drained soil. In the Eastern Cape it is often planted along the boundaries of kraals (an animal enclosure), as it naturally forms a well-shaped and hardy hedge. Like other climbing Aloes, it can easily be propagated by cuttings as well as by seed. 

The one we were given originally (left) was an extremely pot-bound, stressed little plant that grew quickly to well over 6' wide; since then I've made lots of cuttings and put them in other areas of the garden

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