Botanical Name: Aloe Polyphylla
Common Name: Spiral Aloe
We owe the cultivation of this months featured plant in From the Front Porch Journal to Alan Beverly, a professional landscape designer (ecotree.net) from Santa Cruz, CA.
When he discovered this plant in 1970 he was a Peace Corps volunteer and had just graduated from college. He traveled to the rugged mountains of Lesotho in central Africa to find this elusive gem. Perched on nearly vertical north-facing terrain the spiral aloe with its beautifully Fibonacci swirl seduced him and has been seducing plant aficionados since.
Aloe Polyphylla is a challenge to grow here in Southern California as they don’t like our hot summers. I’m thinking I would be willing to give it a try, although an expensive try (prices start at $60) along our coastal region in full sun with northern exposure.
I would be inclined to have ice water running over it daily (to replicate it’s habitat) just for the opportunity to own one. I know I’m a plant-o-phile what can I say. It’s a sickness I inherited from my Grandmother. 🙂 Note: I am no expert on this plant so move forward at your own risk…
Other important items to know about this plant are the following: Aloe polyphylla needs extremely well-drained soil. Does best planted on a slope, the steeper the better. In it’s natural habitat it’s roots are continually washed over by ice water and it’s often snow –covered.
The plant will spiral either to the left or right. Don’t expect it to bloom. Unlike other aloes, it tolerates temperatures from 10-90 degrees. Herd overgrazing and near-extinction of the plants natural pollinator make it a rare plant. Make sure you purchase seed-grown plants they are more disease tolerant than those grown from tissue culture and most certainly do not purchase plants that have been harvested from the wild.