Photo: Thabo Maphisa
Author: Ivan Latti
Aloe humilis, sometimes commonly called the dwarf hedgehog aloe, is a miniature stemless leaf succulent growing a dense clump of up to 10 leaf rosettes. Humilis means lowly or humble in Latin.
The narrow, lanceolate leaves taper to acute tips; they are erect or curve in. Their inner surfaces are about flat, the outer ones convex, both covered by a waxy bloom. A scattering of soft white prickles and tubercles, varying in density is found upon both surfaces and the margins. In shade the leaves are greener and spread somewhat, in full sun they tend to be blue-grey and converging. The leaf sap is almost clear, pale yellow. Leaf dimensions are 10 cm by 1,5 cm.
The species distribution ranges from Mossel Bay to Port Elizabeth and inland to Graaff-Reinet and Grahamstown. The plants grow from sea level to elevations around 1500 m. The habitat is stony flats and lower slopes in arid karoid scrub. Medium rainfall is received in winter in the western parts of this distribution area, during summer in the eastern part. The summers are hot here, the winters cold, especially inland around Graaff-Reinet.The species is not considered threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century.
Five varieties of A. humilis have been described. The species hybridises in nature with A. lineata, A. microstigma and A. striata (Jeppe, 1969; Van Wyk and Smith, 2003; Reynolds, 1974; www.redlist.sanbi.org).
Aloe humilis budding inflorescence
The flowers of Aloe humilis grow in lax, unbranched racemes that reach 35 cm in height. The perianth or flower tube that will nod once it opens is long, (up to 4 cm in length) and narrow. It bulges slightly in the middle and does not flare at the mouth.
Flower colour is scarlet, orange or (rarely) yellowish. The tips of the buds are green, sometimes turning creamy yellow in part when they open. Up to about 20 flowers are found per inflorescence. The anthers reach the perianth mouth without protruding. Flowering happens late in winter to early spring.
In this photo only the imbricate bracts are visible upon the developing inflorescence, bulging over the hidden flowers. The bracts taper to acute points and attenuate near their tips. Their margins are white, while dark parallel lines run longitudinally down the central parts of their surfaces (Jeppe, 1969; Van Wyk and Smith, 2003; Reynolds, 1974).