Photo: Jack Latti

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe greatheadii

Aloe greatheadii var. davyana, previously A. davyana, is common in Gauteng. It is noticed mostly during the winter months when thousands of flowers appear in the grass. They are often found in large groups in poorly managed veld.

The other variety of this Aloe, i.e. A. greatheadii var. greatheadii grows in the north of Limpopo, Zimbabwe (where it abounds), Botswana to Malawi and the DRC.Var. davyana is found more to the south, in the Free State and all provinces north of the Vaal River.  

Baboons will feed on the leaves, destroying plants, but not the plant populations that are replenished from numerous seedlings in the highveld grass. Pollination is done by bees, other insects and birds. Seed is dispersed by wind.

The leaf sap of this plant is used to treat burns and wounds (Van Wyk and Smith, 2003;


Photo: Jack Latti

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe greatheadii var. davyana leaf rosette

The tidy leaf rosette of Aloe greatheadii var. davyana comprises about twelve to twenty spreading, lance-shaped to triangular leaves on the ground, the plant being stemless. The lower leaf part is broad and thickly fleshy, about 10 cm long; the upper part tapers into a narrowing section, soon to dry and twist; nearly as long as the fleshy part after some dry seasons.

The upper surface of the leaf is slightly concave to nearly flat, the lower one convex. The green upper surface has numerous oblong whitish spots, often arranged in irregular transversal bands while thin longitudinal lines are also present. The lower surface is pale green, sometimes finely longitudinally lined and spotless. Spiny teeth occur only along the leaf margins where a hard, brown ridge curves down between the regularly spaced, brown teeth.

The sturdy stem base of an inflorescence is visible in the photo, emerging from among the older leaves. Up to three inflorescences may be produced from one rosette per season (Reynolds, 1974; Van Wyk and Smith, 2003).

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