Aloe castanea (Cat's Tail Aloe)

The Cat's Tail Aloe can grow into a small tree (2 to 3 metres tall) with a single main trunk at ground level with several spreading branches higher up or can be pruned to enhance lower branching to form a dense shrub-like mass.

Name & classification

Botanical name:
Aloe castanea

Common names:
Cat's Tail Aloe (English); Katstertaalwyn (Afrikaans)

Plant family:
Asphodelaceae (as-foh-del-AY-see-ee)
- Includes genera Aloe, Asphodelus and Kniphofia

Plant categories:
Trees; Shrubs; Cacti and Succulents


Name derivation & history:
The common name refers to the bronze-orange flower spikes, which are held upright and resemble the shape of a cat's tail.

The specific epithet 'castanea' is the Latin word for "chestnut" in reference to this aloe's brownish colored flowers.

Pictures


Features

Leaf habit:
Evergreen

Height:
4 metres

Width:
3 metres

Has thorns

Plant shape:
Left to its own devices, the Cat's Tail Aloe forms a single large stem which branches higher up to form a large shrub or small tree.

Leaf description:
The leaves can reach 1.5 metres long with the older leaves persisting along the trunk providing a "skirt" with the margins armed with firm, small, brown teeth.

Flower description:
The blooms, which appear in mid-winter, are an unusual color of dark orange-brown and are formed along the curled and snake-like inflorescence, hence the common name Cat's Tail Aloe. The nectar of this plant is an unusual brown color.

Flowering months:
June to July

Habitat

Natural distribution:
This aloe is native to the North Eastern South Africa from Witbank in Mpumalanga province north to Polokwane in the Limpopo province.

Water requirements:
Waterwise (little water required)

Frost tolerance:
Semi-hardy to hardy (tolerates a fair amount of frost)

Light conditions:
Sun

Other Characteristics

Drought resistant
Wind resistant
Has non-aggressive roots
Suitable for growing in containers
Low maintenance

Edibility & Toxicity

We have no confirmation that any part of this plant is edible
We have no confirmation that any part of this plant is toxic, however we urge caution as this information may be incorrect.

Ecology

Interaction with physical surroundings:
Like most aloes, when in flower the Cat's Tail Aloe is very attractive to birds and insects.
Attracts birds
Attracts insects

Other information

Cultivation:
Plant this aloe in full sun, even in desert heat, in a well-draining soil. It is drought tolerant but seems to bloom better if planted in rich soil and given some summer water.

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