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Origin and Habitat: Aloe buettneri is restricted to West Africa, where it occurs in Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Togo, Benin. Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Zaire, Angola, Zambia, Malawi and Northern Namibia. In this region it is locally cultivated. It is the most abundant aloe species in this area. After the bush fires destroy the mature leaves the plant passes the dry season with the leaf-bases partly burled and with only the central leaf-tips exposed.
Altitude range:* 250-900 metres above sea level.
Habitat and ecology: Aloe buettneri occurs in grassy places in the moister savannah areas and in open woodland. In Namibia A. buettneri occurs in floodplains in an extremely flat area in mopane veld. In summer, the entire region is flooded for long periods.
- Aloe buettneri A.Berger
Aloe buettneri A.Berger
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 36: 60 1905
- Aloe buettneri A.Berger
- Aloe barteri Baker
- Aloe barteri var. dahomensis A.Chev.
- Aloe barteri var. sudanica A.Chev.
- Aloe congolensis De Wild. & T.Durand
- Aloe paedogona Rendle
- Aloe paludicola A.Chev.
ENGLISH: West African aloe
BAMBARA (Bamanankan): Sogoba bu, Sogoba hu
CERMA (Kirma): Magno gu dondialé
FULA or FULANI (Fulfulde, Pulaar, Pularl): Bangio fauru
JULA (Dyula, Dioula): Sinzé toro
MANINKA (Malinke): kadio, kandio
MOSSI ( Mõõré, Mòoré, Mooré, Moré, Moshi, Moore, More): Men-tip
Description: Aloe buettneri (Synonyms Aloe barteri Baker 1860 p.p. ) is a succulent perennial herb up to 30-85 cm tall, without stem, usually solitary, rarely branching into two or suckering, with leaf bases forming a caracteristing underground bulb-like rootstock c. 10 cm in diameter. Such a bulb-like base is not unique in the aloe genus; Aloe bowiea, Aloe kniphofioides and Aloe inconspicua of South Africa, Aloe richardsiae and Aloe bullockii of Tanzania all have bulbs. Aloe buettneri has flower varied in colour.
Roots: Thick and fleshy.
Leaves: About 16 thick and slightly fleshy in a basal rosette, , deciduous, erect to spreading broad at the base. Leaf bases forming an underground bulb-like swelling. Stipules absent. Petiole absent. Blade triangular, 30-50(-80) cm long, 7-9(-12) cm wide, distinctly V-shaped in section, leathery, apple-green, scattered whitish spots, apex acuminate, margin cartilaginous, hard and tough, sharply toothed. Teeth triangular, firm white to pale pink sharp 1-4 mm long, in irregular distance (1-15 mm apart), alternately two closely neighbouring teeth are followed by one solitary tooth.
Inflorescence: 2 or 3 consecutively with a thick stem (40-)60-90(-100) cm long, with 3-5(-12) obliquely spreading branches, and with a few sterile, ovate bracts below the racemes. Branches bearing a cylindrical-conical to almost head-like racemes 10-20 cm long and 7-8 cm broad ± laxly flowered. Floriferous bracts deltoid-acute or lanceolate-acuminate, 8-15 mm long 5-8 mm wide, pale green, 5-7-nerved.
Flowers: Bi-sexual, regular, 3-merous varied in colour, green, yellow, orange or dull red. Pedicel 15-25 mm long, elongating to 5 cm in fruit and thickening conspicuously. Perianth tubular, (28-)35-40(-45) mm ling and 8-10 mm broad, rounded at the base, gradually constricted with the narrowest part about 1/3 length from the base then widening towards the mouth. Lobes 6, c. 12 mm long outer segments free near apex, inner segments free but adnate to outer with tips very slightly spreading. Stamens 6, slightly exserted up to 2 mm. Ovary superior, 3-celled, ±7x8 mm in diamete, style filiform, stigma head-shaped, exserted up to 4 mm.
Fruit (capsules): Ovoid, with few transverse ribs, yellow-green-brown up to 3.5(-4) cm long, and 1.5-2.5 cm broad, dehiscing loculicidally, many-seeded.
Flowering time: (in southern Africa) October to March.
Seeds: ± 12 x 6 x 4.5 mm mm, pale grey or greyish-brown, very broadly winged.
Chromosome number: 2n = 14
Taxonomic notes: The botanical identity of 'Aloe barteri Baker" is unclear. According to the last edition of the "Flora of West Tropical Africa" 1968, Vol. 31 part 1, it is partly Aloe buettneri A.Berger, partly Aloe schwrinfurthii Baker, two Aloes which differ considerably. The west African succulent usually described as “Aloe barteri”, is in most cases Aloe buettneri. Aloe congolensis appears closely related to Aloe buettneri and is possibly synonymous.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Aloe buettneri group
- Aloe buettneri A.Berger: up to 30-85 cm tall, without stem, usually solitary with leaf bases forming a bulb-like rootstock. Distribution: West Africa from Senegal to Nigeria
- Aloe congolensis De Wild. & T.Durand: clustering and sprawling 15-20 cm tall. Rosettes 12 cm wide with short plastic-like wedge-shaped leaves with slight recurved tip and sharp teeth. Distribution: Kimuenza; Congo.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Hans Dieter Neuwinger “African Ethnobotany: Poisons and Drugs : Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology” CRC Press, 1996
2) C.H. Bosch “Aloe buettneri A.Berger.” in: C.H. Bosch In: Gaby H. Schmelzer “Plant Resources of Tropical Africa: Medicinal plants “ ed.: G. H. Schmelzer ; A. Gurib-Fakim. Assoc. ed.: R. Arroo ... General ed.: R. H. M. J. Lemmens ; L. P. A. Oyen. 11. 1 PROTA, 2008
3) Doreen Court “Succulent Flora of Southern Africa” CRC Press, 01/Jun/2000
4) Umberto Quattrocchi “CRC World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms, and Etymology” (5 Volume Set) CRC Press, 03/May/2012
5) "Flora of West Tropical Africa", Vol 3 Part 1
6) S. Kativu “Flora Zambesiaca” FZ, Vol 12 Part 3, page 48 2001
7) Dr J.P. Roux “Flora of South Africa” 2003
8) Burkill, H.M. "The useful plants of west tropical Africa" Vol 3 1985
Cultivation and Propagation: Aloe buettneri is relatively easy to cultivate under a wide variety of climatic conditions provided it is planted in a well-drained situation given adequate water but not over-watered.
Soil: Grow it in an open sandy-gritty cactus compost.
Pots: It needs a relatively shallow pot to accommodate its fibrous roots and provide a very good drainage. It may stay in the same pot for many years.
Watering: It needssr regular water in summer, keep dry in winter or when night temperatures remain below 10° C. Water it less than average if in bigger pots.
Special need: Provide very good ventilation. Nearly all problems occur as a result of overwatering and poor ventilation, especially when weather conditions are dull and cool or very humid.
Fertilization: Light fertilizer seems to boost its growth whenever additional water is given.
Feed them during the growing season with a fertilizer specifically formulated for cactus and succulents (high potash fertilizer with a dilute low nitrogen), including all micro nutrients and trace elements diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. They thrive in poor soils and need a limited supplies of fertilizer to avoid the plants developing excess vegetation, which is easily attacked by fungal diseases.
Exposure: It enjoys light-shade. It may be grown in full sun too but protect in summer from afternoon sun, and avoid reflected heat. It will do its best with some sun and become stressed with inadequate light which could result in poor growth and unnatural shape. Direct sunlight along with prolonged drought and make the leaves turn a reddish colour, a sign generally associated with stress.
Hardiness: It likes warmth (recommended minimum winter temperature 5° C) however plants kept perfectly dry can can survive low temperatures, approx. -2° for short periods, but for safe cultivation it is best to avoid freezing temperatures.
Use: This is a good pot plant suited for a non heated green house. It can be also cultivated outdoors in raised beds, terraces if sheltered from winter rain.
Maintenance: Removal of old flower stalks.
Traditional uses: Aloe buettneri is widely used and often cultivated as a medicinal plant. Leaf sap laxative, antiinflammatory, antiviral, wound dressing, to treat sores, wounds, burns, pain in the joints, inflammation of the breasts. In Senegal a leaf decoction is added to the drinking water of poultry to prevent avian cholera. In Nigeria leaf sap is given to cattle as an anthelmintic. Leaves used in several arrow-poison mixtures.
Propagation: Propagation is by seed, as it seldom offsets. Seeds must be sown as fresh as possible. The best time for sowing would be in the spring or summer when temperatures are warm. Use coarse, well-drained sandy soil and cover seeds lightly, then keep moist. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of grit and water from below with a with a long-lasting fungicide, as seedlings are prone to damping off, a fungus that eventually kills the young plants. For the 1-2 weeks cover the pots with a sheet of glass/clear perspex to keep the humidity levels high. Remove the glass and replace it with light shade-cloth and mist once or twice a day for the next two weeks after which most seeds should have germinated. From then on mistings can be reduced to every second and then every third day as the little plants grow. If you have a number of them you could intentionally damage the growing point to see if it will offset, but wait to do that until early spring, when its growing season is beginning. It is easily rooted in potting soil with warmth.
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