Aloe pearsonii

Scattered stands of Aloe pearsonii in its stony slope habitat may dominate parts of the vegetation. Some bare patches are in view wherever one looks in this arid land, bigger shrubs being few. Succulent plants that store moisture for the frequent dry periods have head start to grow again as soon as conditions permit.

Dense branching of Aloe pearsonii allows for a bit of shade to be earned for some of its branches in turn, as well as over the roots. A few small plants unlike aloes are likely to be found ensconced in the shelter provided, enjoying respite from full sun for part of the day.


Photo: Thabo Maphisa

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe pearsonii leaf spines

These Aloe pearsonii leaves have well-spaced marginal spines, up to 5 mm apart. The deltoid spines are from 1 mm to 2 mm long, here whitish but sometimes dull red.

The spines are comparatively crowded near the leaf-base where they are taller, widely spaced and shorter near the tip where they may be almost absent. Right at the tip there may be a pair of spines, a single one or none at all (Reynolds, 1974).


Photo: Jack Latti

Author: Ivan Latti


Photo: Thabo Maphisa

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe pearsonii red flowers

Aloe pearsonii is threatened by several factors. These include overgrazing and mining operations in its habitat as well as illegal plant collection. The plant's need for an extreme hot and arid climate limits the success with which it can be cultivated in many ill-suited gardening conditions.

Gardeners are encouraged to plant only such plants as are likely to grow in their area. Those with more enterprise and industry can study and simulate the special conditions that a cherished item will require. Plant species known to be threatened, i.e. those becoming extinct in our time, should only be planted by those who have the requisite skills. And no plant growing in nature should be removed illegally to do this.

The suggestion is that planting an endangered species should only be attempted by those who have successfully grown non-threatened plants needing similar conditions as the target plant. Or obtain help from a professional. Seed or cuttings obtained legally would be a good starting point. And beware commercially traded plants illegally obtained! Make sure of your source. This rule of thumb is likely to increase the survival percentage of endangered plants grown by plant enthusiasts.


Photo: Ivan Latti

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe pearsonii stems

The leaves of Aloe pearsonii are blue-green when in halfday shade and receiving adequate water. When stressed in drought conditions, however, as in its summer flowering season, these thick succulent leaves are often quite red as in the photo. This is also the season when they may be browsed by goats kept by Richtersveld farmers, or its roots eaten by hyraxes and other animals of the veld. Other parties living off this harsh land will increase their demands on every useful plant for moisture and sustenance in the ubiquitous struggle for survival.

In summer a multitude of insects and some birds, including sunbirds, also take nectar and pollen from the aloe flowers. If one looks carefully, a transactional process of reciprocation and mutual contributions help different parties in nature according to varying needs. Food chains and matrices are but simplified models of the interdependent networks of mutually dependent living entities that make up local biological economies. Pollination of flowers is thus a vital plant need fulfilled by all the specialist and generalist participant nectar seekers (

Aloe pearsonii yellow flowers

Aloe pearsonii has multiple erect stems of up to 2 m in height. Each is covered in a cloak of four neatly arranged vertical ranks of triangular leaves that point downwards (are deflexed). The plant chemistry and leaf appearance associate this species with the grouping of creeping aloes, although other writers classify it with the multi-stemmed ones.

A. pearsonii is endemic to a hot and arid climate in a limited part of the Richtersveld and an adjacent area in Namibian just north of the Gariep. Large stands of these aloes still occur in habitat, blooming spectacularly in summer. Panicles of yellow or red flowers as well as some in shades between red and yellow adorn the parched countryside. The perianths on the short racemes are long, narrow and pendulous (Jeppe, 1969).


Photo: Thabo Maphisa

Author: Ivan Latti

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