Saturday, 6 June 2015

Aloe pluridens French Aloe

Family    Xanthorrhoeaceae
Subfamily    Asphodeloideae

The specie name pluridens is derived from two words pluri = many and dens = teeth which refers to the many teeth on the leaf margins.

A group of Aloe pluridens growing against the boaundary fence at my natural aloe and grassland garden at Mount Moreland

Distribution and habitat of Aloe pluridens
It occurs naturally from the Eastern Cape to just north of Durban in KwaZulu  Natal where it is normally found growing on cliffs and in the shade of coastal bush. It is particularly common in the Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and the Albany areas where the rosettes may be seen above the surrounding bush.

Aloe pluridens is a very attractive aloe which is usually single-stemmed or may be branched it bears numerous small plantlets on the lower stems. Aloe pluridens is a tall aloe, occasionally reaching up to 5-6 m high. The leaves are bright yellowish to bright green. The leaf margin is armed with numerous teeth. The leaf sap is clear with a strong, rhubarb-like smell.

The inflorescence is attractive, branched with up to 4 racemes protruding above the leaves. The flowers are usually orange or pinkish-red, but a yellow form is also known. Up to three inflorescences may be borne from each rosette. The flowers that are produced from May to July attract sunbirds and bees which in my garden at Mount Moreland often attract Fork tailed Drongos which feed on the bees. This winter the beautiful Scarlet Chested Sunbird which normally occurs much further north has been attracted to the numerous aloes, Kniphofias and Erythrinas trees  that I have flowering in my garden.

Growing Aloe pluridens
Aloe pluridens is extremely easy to grow preferring partial shade for the hottest time of day.  Aloe pluridens will grow in poor soils with little attention but will do much better if it is planted in a large hole that has first been enriched with well-rotted compost and fertilised at least once a year at the beginning of the growing season with a balanced granular fertiliser. 

Although Aloe pluridens is drought tolerant, it thrives and flowers better if adequate irrigation is provided in the summer months.

Propagating Aloe pluridens
Aloe pluridens is extremely easy to propagate which is best done by simply removing the numerous plantlets on the stem and planting them.

The numerous suckers growing on the main stem of Aloe pluridens can clearly be seen

The removal of the side plantlets that are produced in large numbers stimulates the plant to produce more giving a continuous supply of propagating material which makes is possible to quickly produce ever larger numbers of this spectacular aloe. Aloe pluridens can also be grown from seed which they do not produce in large numbers. When vegetatively propagated always propagate from a number of mother plants so that your entire collection does not consist of the clones of one single plant to allow for cross pollination and the production of seed which will hopefully spread to and grow in your neighbours garden.

Landscape value
Aloe pluridens has a high landscape value both as a feature plant where it can be planted as a single plant or as an extensive mass plantings to create a focal point or to define a boundary. Massed plantings provided a brilliant splash of colour during the dry winter months. This aloe is a must for every coastal garden irrespective of whether it is planted entirely to local  indigenous plants or exotic foreign plants

Ecological value
Aloe pluridens is a good source of nectar for birds and bees during the dry winter months

Pests and diseases
Aloe Snout Weevils

Aloe Snout Weevils belonging to the family Curculionidae, the Lesser Aloe Weevil Rhadinomerus illicitus being a particularily destructive specie
The Aloe Snout Weevil is grey, dark brown to black in colour. They are between 15mm-25mm in length. The adult Aloe Snout Weevil feeds on the sap it obtains by puncturing the aloe leaves causing circular lesions 3mm in diameter which leave unsightly marks on the aloe leaves.  The Aloe Snout Weevil lays its eggs at the base of the aloe leaves, the larvae bore into the stem just below the crown of the plant which often causes the entire plant to die.

For comprehensive information on Snout weevil Damage Done to Aloes go to Kumbula Nursery Blog at

White Scale insects

The white scale insects become visible as neat white rows on the leaves, especially on the lower surfaces. If untreated, the entire plant will eventually be covered by the insects and may die.

Medicinal uses of Aloe Pluridens
The sulphur-containing compound Pluridone found in the roots of Aloe pluridens has been proven in trials to effectively control coccidia in poultry.

Michael Hickman
Landscape Design and Rehabilitation Specialist


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1 comment:

  1. stunning, i love this time of the year :) all my aloes are flowering. thanks for the name of this aloe and this blog - i'll keep checking in.