Aloe ferox Miller



Aloe ferox, whose common names include bitter aloe, cape aloe and red aloe in English, bitteraalwyn or bergaalwyn in Afrikaans, and iNhlaba in Zulu, is one of the succulent tree aloes that is restricted to South Africa. A form of it from KwaZulu-Natal used to be called Aloe candelabrum. The species name 'ferox' means 'fierce or war-like' and refers to the spiny-margined leaves. It is a tall single-stemmed aloe that occurs in a broad range of habitats. As with other tree aloes, the dried leaves remain to form a sort of skirt around the trunk, and it has been suggested that this protects the plant from the sun. The leaves are a dull green but may also sometimes have a bluish cast. They may have spines on the upper and lower leaf surfaces as well. The structure of the inflorescence gave rise to the name 'candelabrum.' The flowers are yellow-orange to bright red in color and produce a nectar that attracts many species of birds as well as monkeys and baboons. Sap from the leaves has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes, as a laxative, and for arthritis and the healing of wounds. It may grow to 8'-10' in height, and typically is in bloom during the winter.