Astroloba spiralis has smooth leaves with sharp spiny tips. They are densely arrayed spirally on erect stems and culminating in succulent rosettes at a height of 20 cm. The flowers are small and white with yellow lobes. Blooming time is autumn. The flowers appear inflated and wrinkled. The habitat is the Little Karoo. The plant grows best in some shade in well-drained soil with some watering, mainly in winter.
This plant has an impressive assortment of earlier botanical names. It was at times classified in (at least) the genera of Aloe, Haworthia, Apicra and finally (?) Astroloba. These peregrinations of identity are often a function of the gradual unfolding of the relevant information and insights coming from studying evolutionary development, taxonomical similarities and laboratory analysis results; much more than a clerical exercise of recording how botanists had made up their minds.
The plant should appear much greener if photographed in winter when there would have been some rain and if it had been growing in some shade. Succulent gardeners favour this as a container plant or on rockeries. The same is true for its relatives in the genus, as well as smaller ones in the wider Asphodelaceae family (Bond and Goldblatt, 1984; www.desert-tropicals.com).
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