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Photo: Ivan Latti

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe dolomitica

Aloe dolomitica may be just a discarded synonym for A. vryheidensis as appears to be the official position. It occurs in the north of South Africa, only in the Limpopo province, growing a single stem of up to 2 m in height. A. vryheidensis is a stemless or short-stemmed plant growing in KwaZulu-Natal near Vryheid and in Mpumalanga near Barberton.

Both have dead leaves persisting below the single leaf rosette, which may comprise 50 live leaves in the case of A. dolomitica. Leaves are pale green, narrow with erect or slightly incurving tips in A. dolomitica; grey-green in A. vryheidensis with red, purple or brown tinges, also not recurved. Teeth occur only on the leaf margins of both plants.

The inflorescence of A. dolomitica is always a single raceme although up to six of them may be produced in one season on the same rosette. The robust peduncle has many short, sterile bracts in the section below the flowers.

The flowers are sessile, opening in a short, sometimes skew band or ring of yellow or greenish yellow perianths encircling the stalk. This dense section of open flowers with stamens exserted far, moves up the raceme as lower flowers wither and more of them open at the top of the flowering section. The inner three stamens are exserted before the outer ones. Flowering happens in late winter.

A. dolomitica is found in grassy, mountainous areas among dolomitic rocks (for which it was named) at elevations ranging from 900 m to 1800 m. This habitat is often shrouded in morning mist (Van Wyk and Smith, 2003; Reynolds, 1974).

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