Aloe castanea Schönland

Garden: Balchik
Season: Winter

Aloe castanea (Cat's Tail Aloe). This aloe can grow into a small tree (8 to 12 feet tall) with a single main trunk at ground level with several spreading branches higher up or can be pruned to enhance lower branching to form a dense shrub-like mass 6 to 10 feet tall. The leaves are up to 5 feet long with the older leaves persisting along the trunk providing a "skirt" with the margins armed with firm, small, brown teeth. The blooms, which appear in mid-winter, are an unusual color of dark orange-brown and are formed along the curled and snake-like inflorescence, hence the common name Cat's Tail Aloe. The nectar of this plant is an unusual brown color. Plant this aloe in full sun, even in desert heat, in a well-draining soil. It is drought tolerant but seems to bloom better if planted in rich soil and given some summer water. Often listed as cold tolerant to 25 F. This aloe is native to the Northeastern South Africa from Witbank in the Mpumalanga province north to Polokwane in the Limpopo province. The specific epithet 'castanea' is the Latin word for "chestnut" in reference to this aloe's brownish colored flowers.