Notices for Users of the Albums

1. New Albums and some changes

 

The latest genera Albums added to the Operation Wildflower Site are the ones on Tritoniopsis, Melianthus and Metalasia. This means that photos and stories of plants belonging to these genera already on the Site have been moved from the more general Albums called Bulbs and Shrubs into their own new Albums under Genera. 

 

There is a genus Album in every case where enough material has been accumulated to warrant a stand-alone grouping of photos and stories. There are now more than 160 such Albums on genera of South African plants. The biggest ones (most photos) belong to the genera Crassula, Euphorbia, Pelargonium and Aloe. Keep watching, more will be added! If there is no genus Album yet on the plant you are looking for, check under Types or the Search Box.

 

In order to access all items on a plant of interest, the Search Box should be used, entering the botanical name of the plant. Most photos and stories on a particular plant are likely to be posted under Genera, (or if there are only few of them, in the conglomerate categories under Types). Habitat, Regions or Parks and Gardens may also contain some material on a species searched for, showing in the list generated when using the Search Box. The latest Regions Album is the one on the Langkloof. A new Parks and Gardens Album for the Caledon Wildflower Garden has also been created from existing material.

 

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Aloe polyphylla

Botanical name

Aloe polyphylla

Other names

Spiral aloe; kroonaalwyn (Afrikaans); lekhala kharatsa (seSotho)

Family 

Asphodelaceae

Dimensions

A stemless aloe with a wide, single rosette, having comparatively many leaves in the mature phase as the name indicates; the characteristic and attractive spiral leaf pattern is notable; the spiralling becomes distinctly evident once the rosette is about 25 cm in diameter; a rosette can exceed 50 cm in diameter

Description of stem

Absent; does not produce sucker off-shoots

Description of leaves

Comparatively short, squat leaves of up to 30 cm; smooth grey-green to sometimes yellow-green leaves with sharp, irregular marginal teeth and a distinctive dark to black spike at the apex; often displays a keel (ridge) on the outer leaf surface, positioned off-centre; the leaves in a mature plant are arranged in five spiralling ranks, in either clockwise or anticlockwise formation

Description of flowers

The inflorescence is up to 60 cm tall, branching just above the rosette into several erect racemes; long, pink or pale red perianths pointing obliquely upwards during the bud stage, pendulous when open; the raceme is capitate; flowering occurs in spring (a USA record of flowering in autumn has been noted)

Desciption of seed/fruit

 

Description of roots

 

Variation

 

Propagation and cultivation

Grown from seed with reasonable success, seed germination in vitro in agar or gelatin has been mentioned; said to not be lasting well in cultivation, especially when grown from tissue culture; needs water, comparatively low temperatures and care with the soil mix, (pot mix with orchid bark and washed pumice mentioned);  does not readily flower in cultivation; when grown at lower altitudes it may be attacked by more pests

Tolerances

Adapted to a special wet, cold, montane habitat that is hard to replicate

Uses

Popular garden plant, although not easily made to flourish; may be used in indigenous medicine

Ecological rarity

Threatened by collectors' ardour compounded by local population selling of specimens from the natural habitat; threat from agricultural activities has also been mentioned; CITES listed as endangered

Pests and diseases

 

Other

Grown in Southern Australia with more success than in South Africa? Some USA growers also have success, one reported flowering within six years from germination; the flowers are said to be pollinated by the malachite sunbird, another endangered species!

Location

High altitude grassy mountain slopes in high rainfall, misty areas, often covered by winter snow; not conditions easily replicated in many gardens

Distribution

Mountainous areas of Lesotho; possibly in SA border areas of Free State and Kwazulu-Natal

Country

Lesotho, South Africa

 

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