Categories
indigenous succulent

Another aloe post

I really do love aloes and the aloe tenuior (Basutho Kraal Aloe, inhlaba empofu) in my garden is currently flowering.  This plant forms a thick shrub with spikes of red flowers shooting off it, attracting both whitebellied and Black Sunbirds.  The plant is also used as a protective charm by inyangas and a remedy (made from roots and leave) treats tapeworm infestations (from Pitta Joffe’s Creative Gardening with Indigenous Plants).

It is really easy to propagate – just break off a branch and stick it straight into the soil.

Aloe tenuior in full flower.
Aloe tenuior in full flower.
Categories
succulent

Aeonium arboreum

I got this little guy from my friend Sue a while back.  It has thin, slightly fleshy leaves that grow in a radial from the centre of the plant and has golden-yellow flowers in the spring (I’m still waiting to see the flowers).  This plant currently has one stem but they normally grow more branches.

Surprisingly, another succulent I thought was South African is not.  This one originates in the Canary Islands!

Aeonium arboreum.
Aeonium arboreum.
Categories
indigenous succulent

It’s an aloe!

I never knew this little guy was an aloe – although now that I think about it the red/orange flowers are very similar to the other, larger aloes I have.

Its official name is aloe aristata and they were first ‘discovered’ in the Drakensburg in KwaZulu-Natal, but their habitat stretches from the eastern Karoo to the Eastern Cape to Lesotho. They have thick, juicy leaves with small spines on them which form a rosette (the leaves, not the spines).

I’ve always grown these in pots which would explain why they have remained quite small.  I think I will set one ‘free’ in my garden to see how big it gets.

aloe aristata.
aloe aristata.
Categories
indigenous succulent

How cool is spekboom?

A recent study in the Eastern Cape has highlighted the fact that the humble spekboom (or ‘elephant’s food’ as it is also known) has an amazing ability to soak up CO2, equivalent to that of  sub-tropical forests. Findings suggest that up to four tons of carbon a year would be captured by each hectare. This is apparently making a lot of people excited about how much it could be worth on the carbon-trading market but I’m excited about how an indigenous South African plant could potentially be so valuable in turning back the tide of global warming.  Also, it raises the issue of what uses our other indigenous plants could have, that we have yet to discover.

And I’ve got it in my garden.  I currently have five plants, all grown from one cutting I took from my friend Em’s house in Salt Rock.  So, if anyone wants some (and lives in Durban), let me know and you can come and break off a branch.

Read up about it at the Mail & Guardian and Urban Sprout.

Update: Sasol may turn to Spekboom to capture carbon

Spekboom soaks up the CO2.
Spekboom soaks up the CO2.
Categories
succulent

Mexican Rosette

Another post, another pot plant – but this time I do know its name and where its from.  Its an Echeveria and its as Mexican as tequila and sombreros.  The leaves form an attractive rosette and have a waxy feel to them.  They are very easy to propagate, with a new plant growing from a single leaf.  In fact, my plants have all grown from a single leaf harvested from a friend’s garden.

You may be forgiven for thinking this little plant is South African as you can find them across the country, from dorpies in the Karoo to gardens in Melville.  Also, its part of the Crassulaceae family, as are many other South African succulents.

Interesting fact, courtesy of my What Flower Is That? book.  The name of the genus commemorates a Mexican botanical artist, Atanasio Echeveria.

echeveria
echeveria