Photo: Thabo Maphisa

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe khamiesensis

Aloe khamiesensis is a single-stemmed or two-branched succulent tree of up to 3 m in height (SA Tree List No.29.3). Dead leaves tend to persist below the live leaf rosette; only the lowest stem part sheds them. Some say that the bare bottom stem parts are caused by animals rubbing the dead leaves off, suggesting that they would persist to ground level where no interference had taken place. (The phenomenon of dead plant parts persisting on the live plant is known as marcescence.) The photo was taken in the Goegap Nature Reserve.

The leaves and flowers of A. khamiesensis are about identical to those of A. microstigma that grows solitary and short-stemmed (rarely reaching 50 cm) and A. framesii that forms clumps of up to 20 ground-level rosettes with horizontal, inconspicuous stems. A recent taxonomical event brought the three species together as A. microstigma. A. khamiesensis should therefore be called A. microstigma subsp. microstigma and A. framesii becomes A. microstigma subsp. framesii. Recent literature is not consistent in following this line as the subspecies of A. microstigma are not always recognised and both A. framesii and A. khamiesensis are still sometimes presented as separate species.

The distribution of A. khamiesensis, if taken as a separate species, is in the Northern Cape, particularly in the dry, hot, mountainous parts of Namaqualand and near Calvinia. The plants occur at elevations between 500 m and 1400 m. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century, apart from disappearing into another name with no harm to the plant (Van Wyk and Smith, 2003; Frandsen, 2017; Le Roux, et al, 2005; Coates Palgrave, 2002; Reynolds, 1974; Jeppe, 1969; iNaturalist; http://redlist.sanbi.org).

Aloe khamiesensis leaf spots

The narrow leaves of Aloe khamiesensis curve up near the base. The upper parts may curve outwards or remain erect. The leaves become 40 cm long and 8 cm wide.

The red-brown, triangular teeth are only present upon the margins, both blade surfaces being smooth. Small, elliptic, white spots are usually scattered upon both leaf surfaces, more prevalent on the lower surface. The leaf colour is generally pale dull-green.

The leaves are about identical to those of A. framesii and A. microstigma (Van Wyk and Smith, 2003; Frandsen, 2017; Le Roux, et al, 2005; Reynolds, 1974; Jeppe, 1969; iNaturalist).

 

Photo: Thabo Maphisa

Author: Ivan Latti

 

Photo: Thabo Maphisa

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe khamiesensis rosette and dry leaves

The leaf rosette of Aloe khamiesensis is compact and many-leaved. The leaf colour, in picture yellow-green, is often dull grey-green.

Tall panicles of up to eight conical racemes form the inflorescence that appears in about the first half of winter. There were no sign of flowers when the photo was taken in August after a very dry winter. The individual perianths (flowers) of A. khamiesensis are orange-red, their tips yellow-green. The racemes become up to 30 cm long. The cylindrical to triangular perianth tubes are up to 3,5 cm long.

There are small bracts below the pedicels of the individual flowers. The bracts are thin with many veins visible upon their brown surfaces. The pedicels (stalks) of the perianths are up to 2,5 cm long at the bottom end of the raceme; gradually shorter up its length (Van Wyk and Smith, 2003; Frandsen, 2017; Le Roux, et al, 2005; Reynolds, 1974; Jeppe, 1969; iNaturalist).

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