Aloe pretoriensis

Aloe pretoriensis grows a 1 m stem upon which the 40 to 60 leaves of the single rosette are nearly erect when young. They are lanceolate-acuminate, i.e. lance-shaped and tapering to a sharp apex.

The upper leaf surface is nearly flat while the lower one is rounded, the space between them filled with the succulence characterising Aloe leaves. Only the margins are armed with sharp, reddish, hard teeth. The leaf sap is pale yellow. Leaf colour is grey-green or bluish green, glaucous.

These plants are found in nature from Pretoria eastwards to Mpumalanga and Limpopo on rocky slopes in grassland and full sun. In bloom during May and June they are a feature in the veld near Roossenekal and Lydenburg. The specific epithet still links the plant to Pretoria, the western end of its distribution, serving as a reminder once the city has fully morphed into Tshwane (Reynolds, 1974; Jeppe, 1969).

Photo: Thabo Maphisa

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe pretoriensis flowering in Gauteng

A tall Aloe pretoriensis inflorescence has charm although being slender and lanky, or maybe because of it. Flowering when the winter grass is dry, it adds contrasting colour that isn’t missed.

The five to eight branches of a typical raceme become 20 cm to 30 cm in length, about 10 cm in diameter. The individual flower or perianth is cylindrical to triangular, lacking a basal constriction. Its inner three segments have green tips.

Imbricate bracts are found among the individual flowers below each pedicel. The unopened perianths at the top of a young raceme are initially covered by these bracts (Reynolds, 1969).

Photo: Ivan Latti

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe pretoriensis inflorescence

A single inflorescence of Aloe pretoriensis grows from each rosette in late autumn or early winter. Occasionally it achieves more than 3 m in height when conditions are exceptional.

The racemes are conical to cylindrical and tapering to their apices. Small bracts envelop the individual pedicels. The perianths are slightly wider in the middle, tapering to their mouths where the pink to peach coloured segments may show some yellow once open (Reynolds, 1974; Jeppe, 1969).

Photo: Ivan Latti

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe pretoriensis leaf rosette

In some Aloe species, as in this rosette of Aloe pretoriensis, drying out of the leaf-tips occurs even when growing conditions are favourable.

A. pretoriensis is a joy to the sunbirds who visit the flowers for a serving of nectar from each freshly opened perianth. This is the reward on offer for performing routine pollination services in a long-standing, mutually beneficial arrangement. Even when a visitor may be disappointed by an earlier visitor having taken the booty, some grains of pollen may stick to its body for a fruitful deposit at the following flower where it may be luckier.

Photo: Ivan Latti

Author: Ivan Latti

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