Krantz Aloe

© Roger de la Harpe

Name

Krantz Aloe (Aloe arborescens)

Description

The flowers of the Krantz aloe are coral red and pipe-like, growing together in the shape of a spearhead. These flowers are carried on strong stems and bloom from May to July in one to four ‘spearheads’. A Krantz aloe plant has many stems and thick leaves that are yellow-green in colour, sharply spiked and contains a slimy yellowish sap.
These plants are able to survive droughts as its leaves also store moisture. This aloe has been used for decades for its sap to treat stomach ailments. It is also an important source of food for sunbirds who search the flowers for nectar, which pollinate them in the process.

Habitat

The Krantz aloe is widely distributed across South Africa, stretching into Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. It is one of few aloe species that grow in the mountains and on the coast. This plant can be found growing mostly on rocks and cliffs, as its name suggests, as well as in dense bush.

Field Notes

The Krantz’ aloe’s healing properties have only been recognised by western medicine in the past few decades, but its bitter juice has been used by tribal people to cure many ailments for centuries. It was only after the atomic bomb of WW11 when the healing properties of the aloe were noted, as it was used in mixtures to treat burn victims.