Aloe striata

Aloe striata grows from around the Hex River Pass eastwards through the Karoo and Little Karoo scrub until the Eastern Cape around Port Elizabeth and Graaff-Reinet, also northwards into Namibia and eastwards to the Kei River.

The Western and Eastern Cape plants are usually A. striata subsp. striata as the flowering plants in the picture are believed to be. In the Northern Cape and Namibia the prevailing plants are usually A. striata subsp. karasbergensis, now A. karasbergensis, with a more loosely branched inflorescence that is not flat-topped.

There is an even more rare and threatened (earlier) subspecies called A. striata subsp. komaggasensis, now A. kommagasensis, in a limited mountainous part of Namaqualand near Komaggas. It has white or yellow leaf margins and flowers in midsummer.

The habitat of this aloe is usually rocky slopes and hillsides among karoid scrub. The plant has become an important item in xeriscaped gardens, flourishing in arid conditions and full sun (Jeppe, 1969; Van Wyk and Smith, 2003).

Photo: Ivan Latti

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe striata inflorescence

The inflorescence of Aloe striata, when growing well, will be much branched and rebranched. There may be three panicles following each other in sequence or even blooming concurrently. The inflorescence becomes 1 m tall.  It is a panicle with corymbose shape, the flat-topped structure has the older flowers around the edges, young buds in the centre. 

While A. striata is regarded as a stemless aloe, it sometimes has a short stem, just enough of it to allow tilting to the side in its characteristic sun-facing position as seen here.

A. striata inflorescences in the eastern parts of the distribution are characterised by flat-topped racemes, those in the western parts have conical shapes. The flower colours vary from pinkish-red to coral-red. There is a yellow flowering form in the Eastern Cape. The buds are green-tipped while the tips of open perianths are yellow. Flowering begins in winter and carries on into mid-spring (Reynolds, 1974; Jeppe, 1969).

Photo: Ivan Latti

Author: Ivan Latti

Aloe striata young leaves

The big, broad leaves of Aloe striata, sitting on the ground in a large, dense rosette are very conspicuous in the arid habitat this aloe shares with mostly small-leaved plants. The leaves vary in colour depending on the locality of the specimen and prevailing climatic conditions, from blue-green and grey-green to yellow-green.

Leaf shape also varies from broad and oblong to lanceolate-attenuate or markedly tapering to a narrow tip. The upper surface is nearly flat at the base, convex below. The leaf surface is marked by thin, longitudinal lines, i.e. running almost parallel between the tip and the base.

The specific name striata refers to this feature. The upper leaf surface may rarely show some spots as well. The margins are pinkish with a rigid, smooth or almost smooth edge and are not toothed, unlike the leaves of so many aloes. There may be 12 to 20 leaves in a mature rosette. Leaf sap is opaque and yellow (Reynolds, 1974; Jeppe, 1969).

Photo: Ivan Latti

Author: Ivan Latti

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