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Accepted Scientific Name: Aloe cameronii Hemsl.
Bot. Mag. 129: t. 7915. 1903
Origin and Habitat: Malawi
Type locality: Malawi, Dedza Mountain.
Habitat: Among rocks in open woodland.
Altitude: 480–2100 metres a.s.l.
- Aloe cameronii var. dedzana Reynolds
Aloe cameronii Hemsl.
Bot. Mag. 129: t. 7915. 1903
ENGLISH: Cameron's Ruwari Aloe, Red Aloe, Cameron's Red Aloe
Description: Aloe cameronii var. bondana is a medium sized sprawling shrubby aloe with with flowers varying in colour from red to orange, creamy-yellow or often bicoloured with buds and young flowers red becoming yellow at maturity. In time it will produce a shrub up to 100 cm high. It has spectacular leaves that in bright sunlight turns crimson.
Stems: Sprawling, branching from the base and above and clothed in persistent leaf remains.
Rosettes: 30-60 cm across, with lax erect-spreading leaves.
Leaves: Curvaceous, narrow, 40–50 cm long, 5–7 cm wide near the base, lanceolate-attenuate, shiny skinned, uniformly green or occasionally with a few whitish spots especially on young leaves, red-tending, that turns deep coppery red in the dry season when grown in full sun and high heat. Margin with pungent deltoid minutely brown-tipped teeth 2–4 mm long and 8–15 mm apart. Also, the sap is purple when you break a leaf, so watch out for staining.
Inflorescence: 1 to 3 from each leaf rosette, erect to 1 m tall above the rosette. Racemes cylindrical, 20–25 cm long and 5–6 cm in diameter.
Flowers: Perianth slender, scarcely widening towards the mouth to about 6 mm in diameter.. Pedicels about 5 mm long. Stamens and stigma protruding beyond beyond the margin 5 mm.
Blooming season: From late autumn through the winter, but often later in spring or summer in temperate climate with marked winter rest.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Aloe cameronii group
- Aloe cameronii Hemsl.: has cylindrical racemes, 10-30 long and 5–8 cm in diameter, and pretty leaves that in bright sunlight turns crimson.
- Aloe cameronii var. bondana Reynolds: has shorter mulicoloured racemes 10-15 cm long and 7–8 cm in diameter.
- Aloe cameronii var. dedzana Reynolds: has cylindrical racemes, 20-25 cm long and 5–6 cm in diameter, and forms sprawling shrubs.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Govaerts, R. (1995). "World Checklist of Seed Plants" 1(1, 2): 1-483, 1-529. MIM, Deurne.
2) Pope, G.V. (ed.) (2001). "Flora Zambesiaca" 12(3): 1-106. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
3) Carter, S., Lavranos, J.J., Newton, L.E. & Walker, C.C. (2011). "Aloes. The definitive guide" 1-720. Kew publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England.
4) S. Kativu “Flora Zambesiaca” FZ, Vol 12 Part 3, page 48 (2001)
5) Urs Eggli “Illustrated Handbook of Suculent Plants: Monocotyledons” Springer, 2001
6) Reynolds, Gilbert Westacott. 1965. "Original description of Aloe cameronii var. dedzana".
Cultivation and Propagation: This is one of the most attractive foliage aloes and also bears attractive flowers. It is easy to grow and adaptable, it suckers and can form dense groups. It can be grown in large containers. Sometimes used as stock for hybrids because of the reliable red colour to the leaves. Many hybrids are available. All are drought-tolerant.
Growth: It grows slowly, but not agonizingly so being able to increase its width by 10- 20 cm per year under favourable conditions.
Soil: Always use a good quality, loamy sandy soil with plenty of drainage with chips at the bottom of containers.
Repotting: Use pot with good drainage.
Watering: Needs moderate to copious waterings in summer, but do not overwater, or not at all in the colder months of winter. Outdoors it can withstand long periods of drought, but they will thrive and flower more profusely if watered in the correct season. This aloe is very tolerant of drought, although the tips of the leaves may wither and curl during hot, dry periods. Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil and irrigate only occasionally to enhance the red coloration of the foliage. Supplemental watering will help keeping the leaves plump, green and juicy.
Fertilization: Feed it once or twice during the growing season with a fertilizer specifically formulated for cactus and succulents (poor in nitrogen), including all micro nutrients and trace elements diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label.
Exposure: It need full sun to partial shade, but plants grown in partial shade usually look healthier and more succulent. It is however very hardy when grown in full sun with the minimum water.
Hardiness: When dry it can stand light frost but it is damaged in hard freezes, but recovers quickly. The leaf tips and blooms get damaged below -2°C (USDA zones 9b-10 ). The clumps melted in the freeze, often return from underground suckers. During the winter months, the plants should be grown cool to initiate flower development (about 5-10°C )
Pests & diseases: Incorrect watering, poor drainage or too much shade can lead to attack by pests and diseases.
Maintenance: Removal of old flower stalks; Divide the crowded clumps periodically. It grows much better outdoors in spring and summer.
Warning: It's teeth are not too sharp, but they can hurt your fingers if you are pruning off some dead leaves (get stiffer once they dry).
Gardening: This is a great plant for color, if you have a bright, sunny spot in an area that doesn't get too much water. It is one of the redder aloes available. In mild climates it can be cultivated outdoors for use in landscaping, it can be grown in large, rocky, well-drained soil in gardens in drier areas. It adapts well to a variety of soils and climates, but will grow best in regions with a climate close to that of its native deserts not too cold, and not too wet. It makes an excellent ground cover, grows best in a sunny position and makes a long lasting cut flower.
Traditional uses: This plant is suitable as a source of dye, the roots dye wool red-brown to purplish-red, depending on the mordant.
Propagation: By division of offshoots that develop around the outside of the main rosette in spring, the cuttings must be dried out for at least 1 week before planting in river sand. It is easily rooted in potting soil with warmth. It can also be propagated or by seed planted in autumn, in trays of coarse river sand, compost and soil. Sprinkle the seeds evenly on the surface and cover with a layer of small pebbles. The pebbles help the seedlings to stay upright and prevent damping off. Fresh seeds germinate quickly at 18° C. Keep seed tray in a dry corner and do not allow to dry out, but may damp off if overwatered. Transplant the seedlings after one year.
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