This young leaf rosette of Aloe melanacantha still has white spines on its leaf margins. Protected indoors in coddled cultivation conditions, the blackening of the spines (to live up to the melanacantha specific name) has yet to come. Especially the upper spines that grow longer and are more widely spaced are noted for their very dark colour in this Aloe.
The spacing of the still short, triangular in three dimensions (deltoid) spines is irregular, and so are their sizes. Some of the spines will reach 1 cm in length, but that comes later. Not visible in this photo taken from above, the leaf keels also have spines. About six of them form a row at the back of the leaf; short ones near the base, progressively longer towards the leaf tips.
The narrowly triangular and thickly succulent leaves bulge convexly on their upper surfaces here, not showing the channelled upper surface normal in old rosettes. The curving in of the leaf-tips to form the characteristic ball-shaped rosette has not begun yet. Mature leaves become 20 cm long, 4 cm wide at the base.
The plant is commonly known as goree among residents in the heartland of the plant's distribution, Namaqualand and the Richtersveld (Reynolds, 1974).