Aloe greatheadii Schönland

Picture on right identified on garden sign as Aloe daveyana.

Picture below identified as Aloe verdoorniae, and picture
on right as Aloe barbertoniae.

Aloe greatheadii is in the sub-grouping of aloes called 'spotted aloes,' and currently includes a number of synonymous species previously recognized in their own right such as Aloe daveyana, Aloe verdoorniae, Aloe mutans, Aloe graciliflora and Aloe barbertoniae. Opinions differ on the specific status of many aloes, so this should not be taken as a definitive determination. There are two variants listed in the Plants of Southern Africa checklist, daveyana and greatheadii, but whether even this is a legitimate separation is open to question. The Guide to the Aloes of South Africa gives Zimbabwe as the main center of distribution for var. greatheadii, ranging also into Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique and Congo, and entering South Africa in the Northern Province, whereas var. daveyana is limited to South Africa but inhabits a greater range there. As the pictures above suggest, plants that are now included in Aloe greatheadii but were originally named separately may show significant variations. I will not attempt to differentiate them here. Common names include spotted aloe in English, and transvaalaalwyn, kleinaalwyn or grasaalwyn in Afrikaans. The PlantzAfrica website says that it is "a drab and uninteresting plant, but when it flowers in winter, it is spectacular." This is a stemless species with shiny green leaves marked by oblong white spots arranged in rows and leaf margins with sharp brownish teeth. The flowering stems are typically branched and the inflorescences contains flowers that range from pale pink to bright red, blooming June to July. Its leaf sap can be used to treat burns, sores or wounds.