Aloe chabaudii
Aloe chabaudii

Photo

Ivan Latti

Author

Ivan latti

The form of Aloe chabaudii found in the eastern parts of the Limpopo and Mpumalanga as well as in northern KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland is sometimes called A. chabaudii var. chabaudii. Two other forms, viz. A. chabaudii var. mlanjeana (Malawi) and A. chabaudii var. verekeri(Zimbabwe) have also been recorded. Variability of these plants does occur across the overall distribution of A. chabaudii, raising questions about the recognition of varieties.

The leaves of mature plants are sometimes broader and more upturned than these in the photo. There are usually about 20 leaves per rosette. The leaves are up to 10 cm wide low down on their tapering structure. Leaf colour is grey-green to glaucous. Few or no leaf spots are typical of mature plants.

A. chabaudii plants are stemless, forming clusters from suckering. Heights around 75 cm are achieved including the inflorescence (Reynolds, 1974; Jeppe, 1969; Van Wyk and Smith, 2003).

Aloe chabaudii inflorescence
Aloe chabaudii flowers

Photo

Lorraine Vermeulen

Author

Ivan Latti

Aloe chabaudii flowers in spectacular fashion among the shrubs, grasses and rocks of its habitat. It is often found on granite hills and slopes in sandy or clayey soils. It does not like frost.

The H-shaped leaf spots common on young plants become fewer or disappear on mature specimens. Plants growing in shade have greener leaves than those in full sunlight that are likely to acquire a red to pale purplish colour.

Barbara Jeppe (1969) notes flower colour variations (red and yellow) in Malawian and Zimbabwean forms of this Aloe.

Aloe chabaudii inflorescence
Aloe chabaudii inflorescence

Photo

Ivan Latti

Author

Ivan Latti

The inflorescence of Aloe chabaudii is a loosely spreading panicle with about six to eight ascending branches and 20 conical to cylindrical racemes. Perianth colour is normally scarlet to brick-red in the southern part of the plant’s geographical distribution, i.e. South Africa and Swaziland.

This specimen, photographed in the Sabie region in July, had much orange on its developing green-tipped buds. The base of the perianth is swollen while markedly narrowed above the ovary. This feature is similar to flowers of some of the spotted aloes.

The inner three stamens are exserted before the outer ones, increasing the duration of the period during which viable pollen is presented. The stigma is also exerted about 2 mm (Reynolds, 1974; Jeppe, 1969; Van Wyk and Smith, 2003).

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