Aloe polyphylla – Spiral Aloe
Pannicles of bright orange flowers in early summer, over spiral leaf rosette.
This is a stemless succulent to 1.0m tall when in flower. The outstanding feature of this plant is the basal rosette of leaves, that are arranged in a spiral formation. There are always five spiral “arms” but the spiral can go in either direction on any particular plant. This is page is unusual in that the inset picture above is not of the flowers, but of the leaves.
A. striata is native to rocky hillsides of Lesotho and the Drakensburg mountains in South Africa. Wild populations have suffered from the predations of plant hunters and it is now illegal to take plants or seed from the wild.
Soil / Aspect:
In the wild A. striata grows in rocky scree and crevices between 2,000M and 2,500M in regions with cool summers and high summer rainfall. It will tolerate a range of soil pH, but the soil does need well drained soil. It prefers full sun, though it will tolerate dappled shade. It is hardy down to -5oC though not for prolonged periods, provided the soil is not wet.
Light watering will plump up the leaves, but this is about as low maintenance as a plant gets. You can either wait until the flower stalk has withered over a few months and can be pulled away by hand; or, if you find the dry stalk unsightly it can be pruned after flowering. Propagation is tricky.