Aloe perfoliata

Aloe perfoliata, the mitre aloe, has long thin stems, seemingly too weak to keep the dense load of stout leaves erect. This plant is known as one of the creeping aloes with stems that often lie on the ground and just the rosettes at the ends of branches pointing upwards. The stem of the young Kirstenbosch plant in picture has not quite succumbed to gravity yet.

The leaves of A. perfoliata are triangular, clasping the stems in the encircling fashion that gave rise to the specific epithet perfoliata. The leaves spread in erect fashion or curve inwardly a little. The yellowish teeth on the leaf edges and keels turn darker on older leaves. It is not known whether the scattered whitish spots on the outside of the leaves on the photographed specimen are common. Some sources also do not mention the teeth on the keels as Jeppe does (Van Wyk and Smith, 2003; Hankey and Winter, undated, unpublished; Jeppe, 1969).

 

Photo: Ivan Latti

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe perfoliata
Aloe perfoliata

 

Photo: Ivan Latti

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe perfoliata in rocky habitat

Groups of Aloe perfoliata rosettes form naturally by sideshoots growing on stems from below the leafy parts at the tips. Clumps were photographed in the Caledon Botanical Garden near the Window Rock where they were undisturbed in natural habitat due to the conservation actions of many people.

It is too early to expect flowers in October as this species is summer blooming, unlike many Cape aloes. The inflorescence of this species usually reaches 40 cm to 60 cm, the panicle typically branching into two to five capitate, densely flowered racemes. The corollas of the individual flowers, the perianths are slightly curved, cylindrical but tending towards a three-angled shape. Both the inner and outer whorls of three corolla segments each are free from each other to the base, the outer ones cohering in their lower halves. The flower colour is dull scarlet.

Reynolds (1974) writes about a series of six doubtful variations of A. mitriformis, now A. perfoliata, stating that regarding this Aloe merely as a variable species is best, dropping varieties created in narrowly defined horticultural conditions, never to be seen in nature.

Aloe perfoliata on a rock with a view

Aloe perfoliata on a rock with a view

These Aloe perfoliata sentinels symbolically guard the town of Piketberg and surrounds, earlier Piquetberg, from their Piketberg Mountain perches near the town.

Growing in soil derived from Table Mountain Sandstone, or the more up to date term, Peninsula Formation Sandstone, the scarlet or orange-red flowers appear in summer. In August, the photo can only feature the yellowish, cartilaginous teeth on the leaf margins. The thickly succulent, triangular leaves angle up and outwards in rigid rosettes.

Both A. distans and A. mitriformis are now sunk into the later described A. perfoliata, ignoring superficial differences (Frandsen, 2017; Jeppe, 1969; iNaturalist; Wikipedia).

 

Photo: Jack Latti

Author: Ivan Latti

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