World-renowned and widely cultivated for its medicinal properties, Aloe vera
is one of the most famous plants in the world. Especially among those of us who may suffer more with sunburn...
Its tolerance for neglect and fleshy leaves also make it a great choice as a houseplant! If you place it a sunny spot and only water when it's totally dried out, you shouldn't have much of a problem!
But the genus of Aloe
doesn't begin and end with Vera! There are over 500 species found throughout the world, characterised by the succulent leaves adjourned with spikes and tubular red, yellow, pink or orange flowers.
So if you're looking to diversify from what you know, here's a list of other aloe species you could add to your plant collection.
Photo by Going.Local
The Spider Aloe, Aloe humilis, is a low growing aloe species native to South Africa. It is also known as the Dwarf Hedgehog Aloe for its short height and dense clusters of spined bluey-green leaves.
Like most succulents, the Spider Aloe doesn't like things too cold or too wet and can reward you with massive flowers relative to its compact size if you look after it correctly!
Tiger Tooth Aloe
Aloe juvenna is a popular cultivated species but is incredibly rare in Kenya, where it grows in the wild.
The Tiger Tooth Aloe has small, spiny leaves which are bright green with splodges of creamy-white. These are densely packed around the stem and don't look too far off tiger teeth!
This attractive foliage and small growth habit make this an ideal houseplant, and you can propagate from the stems or plant the offshoots ('pups') to create more Aloe plants!
Also known as the mitre aloe, Aloe perfoliata is a creeping aloe that grows naturally in rocky environments throughout the western cape in South Africa.
Although reasonably cold tolerant, like most Aloes it will always prefer being under glass in mild, temperate climates, and watered little in the Winter.
The Golden Toothed Aloe, Aloe nobilis, is a hybrid of A. perfoliata and is popular throughout the world.
They can be difficult to tell apart but A. nobilis is usually smaller, with leaves that are brighter green.
It's pretty clear what gives Aloe polyphylla its common name and popularity.
The spiny leaves grow in a fascinating spiral pattern, either clockwise or anticlockwise.
The Basotho people of Southern Africa thought that the direction of spiral indicated the sex of the plant which are, in fact, bisexual.
Although a very aesthetic addition to any garden, the Spiral Aloe is challenging to grow outside its native range.
Although its name isn't as original as some others on this list, the attractive foliage on the Short-Leaved Aloe make it a popular ornamental garden plant and helped it gain an RHS Award of Garden Merit.
The short leaves are thicker than other aloes and can get quite pink in full sun.
Offsets form tight clusters of plants that can grow up to 2ft tall, making a great addition to any Mediterranean or rock garden.
Zebra Leaf Aloe
It's not hard to guess where this Aloe got its name from. Sometimes the Latin fits as well!
The Zebra Leaf Aloe has pink-red flowers in its native range across southern Africa. Like others, it'll prefer being under glass in temperate climates.
The shape of the flower and flowering timing is one of the only ways to be able to tell it apart from the incredibly similar Aloe maculata
Aloe ferox, like A.vera, has a long history of medicinal use and is probably runner up when it comes to best-known aloes.
The Cape Aloe can grow in a wide range of habitats, from rocky mountain slopes to wide-open areas.
The name 'Ferox' is derived from the Latin for fierce. You just have to look at the formidable spiny leaves to figure out why!
Aloe arborescens can grow in many habitats, but favours rocky ledges and exposed areas in mountainous regions.
As with all aloes, the usually dark orange flowers produce lots of nectar, which is favoured by many kinds of birds and bees, especially sunbirds.
The Krantz Aloe, also known as the Candelabra Aloe, also flowers in winter, making it popular among gardeners across the world.
Interestingly, 'Arborescens' comes from the Latin for 'tree-like', and 'krantz' is an Afrikaans word meaning 'rocky-cliff'.
Owing to some complicated reclassification in recent years, there are now several genera that used to be part of the Aloe genus but are now having to pave out their own path.
So as not to ignore them completely, I thought I'd include them on this list.
Gone but not forgotten, Gonialoe
is a genus comprising of three species of plants that all look like real aloes.
The most well known is the Tiger Aloe, A. variegata, named for its impressive stripes. It's also known as the partridge-breasted Aloe because, well, the same reason.
The Lace Aloe, Aristaloe artistata is the sole member of the Aristaloe genus, so named for the lacy edges on the leaves.
Recent investigations into its genetics found that this plant is actually more closely related to Astroloba
than ALoe, hence its demotion.
Hopefully this has given you some more Aloe inspiration! If you're after some yourself, check out the marketplace for new stock!