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Aloe, Aloinopsis, Alonsoa and Allopecurus. A-Z of Plant Genera part 17

Updated on March 25, 2016

Split Aloe leaf showing how the leaves are full of stored water.



In this series , A-Z of plant genera we review the species that occur within a particular genus. The plants will be diverse in form, size and distribution. They occur on all continents of the world. In part 17 of this series we look at four genera containing a wide range of plant species. We commence with the genus Aloe a genus that is often found under the family Liliaceae and more recently under the family Antherrhoeaceae, within the order Asparagales. They are succulent plants and store water in their large fleshy leaves,stems or roots which allows them to survive in arid environments.

There are over five hundred species,with Aloe vera being the most well known in the western world. It is popular or its medicinal properties and has long been cultivated as a house plant. However, it is now thought to be extinct in the wild. The genus Aloe is native to Africa, Madagascar, Jordan and the Arabian peninsula and also to various Islands in the Indian ocean. Some species have become naturalized in other countries such as North and South America and Australia. The plants sometimes referred to as the 'American Aloe' belongs to the genus Agave and the family Aparagaceae.

The cultivars are a group of evergreen , rosetted trees,shrubs and perennials, some being Scandent climbers with succulent foliage and tubular bell-shaped flowers. They are frost tender with a minimum temperature requirement of seven to ten degrees C { 45-50 F }. Tree Aloes and shrubs with a spread of one foot prefer full sun, most smaller species prefer partial shade. They require a very well drained soil. They may be propagated by seed,stem-cuttings or by offsets in spring and summer.

Aloe arborescens 'Compton'

Taken at the Botanical Gardens Cape Town
Taken at the Botanical Gardens Cape Town | Source

Aloe arborescens

Taken in Tenerife.
Taken in Tenerife. | Source

Aloe aristata


Aloe arborescens and Aloe aristata

Aloe arborescens, in its native state is endemic to south eastern South Africa. It has the third largest distribution among Aloe species. Its native habitat usually consists of mountain regions and rocky outcrops.

The cultivar is an evergreen , bushy ,succulent-leaved shrubby plant with a height and spread of about six feet. The stems are crowned with rosettes od widely spreading.long,slender, curved,dull, blue-green leaves with toothed margins. Long flower stems produce masses of tubular to bell shaped flowers of an orangey red colour during late winter and spring.

Aloe arborescens variety 'Variegated', is an evergreen,bushy,succulent leaved shrubby plant. Each crown is itself crowned by rosettes of long slender,blue green leaves with toothed margins and cream-coloured stripes.

Aloe aristata, is native to southern Africa and is referred to by the common names of Guinea fowl Aloe and Lace Aloe. It is found in a diverse range of habitat from dry sandy regions to high grasslands and on cold mountain slopes,to shady forested localities.

The cultivar is a clump forming ,succulent perennial that has a basal rosette of pointed dark green leaves with white spots and soft toothed edges.During the spring they produce orange flowers up to four feet tall, the spread of the plant is about one foot. It will tolerate partial shade, but requires a well-drained soil. It may be propagated freely by taking offsets.

Aloe excelsa variety breviflora


Aloe brevifolia

Taken in Spain.
Taken in Spain. | Source

Aloe breviflora.

Aloe breviflora, is sometimes referred to as the short -leaved Aloe and is a tiny compact plant native to the western Cape,South Africa. In its natural habitat it is confined to dry clay soils,where it is now classed as being vulnerable.

The cultivar is a basal rosetted,succulent, perennial producing many offsets. They attain the height of six inches with a spread of about a foot. It has broadly sword-shaped fleshy blue green leaves with a few teeth along the margins. During the spring the flower stems stand twenty inches tall and carry narrowly bell-shaped flowers of a bright red colour.

Aloe ferox

Taken at the Springs Preserve garden , Las Vegas, Nevada USA
Taken at the Springs Preserve garden , Las Vegas, Nevada USA | Source

Aloe ferox

Aloe ferox is known as the 'Cape Aloe', and is native to southern Africa. It is a plant of rocky hills,in grassy regions. The cultivar is an evergreen succulent with a woody stem,crowned by a dense rosette of sword-shaped,blue green leaves that have spiny margins. It carries an erect spike of bell-shaped orange/scarlet flowers during the spring. Height up to ten feet with a spread of five to six feet. They require full sun and well-drained soils.

Aloe capitata


Aloe comosa


Aloe petricola


Aloinopsis setifera


The genus Aloinopsis

This genus is a genus of 'Ice plants', native to South Africa. They belong to the family Aizoaceae within the order of Caryophyllales. They grow in arid areas stretching across the border between western ,eastern and northern Cape provinces. Many species occur in arid winter rainfall areas. They have a rather large fibrous root system. Most species are winter growers and do not like to much water occurring at the wrong time.

The cultivars are a group of dwarf,tuberous succulents with daisy like flowers that occur from late summer until spring. They are frost tender with a minimum temperature requirement of seven degrees C {45 F}. They need a sunny site and very well drained soil. They show adverse effects to over watering. They may be propagated by seed in the summer months.

Aloinopsis schooneesii, is a typical cultivar,a dwarf mounded species, a perennial with succulent roots and fleshy almost globe-shaped leaves of a blue green colour arranged typically in tufts. It produces flattish, yellow flowers in winter and spring.Height about one and a quarter inches with a spread of about three inches. Aloinopsis setifera, {top right} is a cushion forming succulent with tubercles on the foliage which tend to have a pink sheen near the tips. The flowers are yellow and daisy like.

Aloinopsis rosulata


Aloinopsis rosulata and others.

Aloinopsis rosulata, is a native to South Africa and is a 'winter grower'. The foliage which arises from the thick tuber is somewhat spoon shaped and covered by tubercles. The flowers which are produced by this species are pale pink with red stripes and daisy-like.

Aloinopsis matherbei, is a succulent plant often referred to as the 'Great Jewel Plant'. It is native to the Cape provinces of South Africa. It produces yellow flowers. The foliage is fleshy with tubercles only on the tips of the leaves.

Aloinopsis spathulata, is some times found under the scientific name of Mesembryanthemum,crassipes, is a cushion forming and only rarely occurs in nurseries. They produce daisy-like pink flowers with white centres.

Aloinopsis spathulata Cultivar


Alonsoa meridionalis


Alonsoa warscewiczii

Taken at Cambridge University Botanical Garden
Taken at Cambridge University Botanical Garden | Source

The genus Alonsoa

The genus Alonsoa is a genus that belongs to the Scrophulariaceae family that occurs within the order of plants known as the Lamiales. The genus contains about twelve species, which are native to central and western South America, from Mexico to Peru and Chile. There are also at least two species native to South Africa. The genus is named after Zenon de Alonso Acosta, a Spanish official in Bagota.

The cultivars are a group of perennials generally grown as annuals,and are good for cut flowers.They are half hardy and require sun and a rich well drained soil. During wet summers the flowering may be poor outdoors. Young plants should having their growing tips pinched out to promote bushy growth. They may be propagated by seed sown outdoors in late spring. growers need to be aware that Aphids may be troublesome especially under glass.

Alonsoa warscewicza, a native of Peru,is referred to as the Mask flower, and is one such perennial grown as an annual. It has slender,branching red stems,which bear oval, toothed, deep green coloured leaves and spurred, bright scarlet flowers which are produced in summer and early autumn. They attain the height of up to two feet with a spread of about a foot. they require full sun and a rich well drained soil. They are half hardy down to 0 degrees C {32 F }.

Gardeners are advised to grow them in groups where they make an impressive display in front of a summer border. They may be over-wintered in a heated greenhouse or conservatory. They must only be planted outside when all danger of frost has passed.

Alonsoa meridionalis, is another half hardy species with an upright habit,flowering from June until October. This species produces superb orange/red bl;ooms {see image}. It also requires full sun and very well drained soil. It attains the height of sixteen inches {40 cm }, the foliage is green. It is suitable to grow in a raised bed or container. It may survive winter in very well protected situations,but needs to be sheltered from hard frosts.

Alopecurus carolinianus


Alopecurus aequalis

Note the white to Orange anthers.
Note the white to Orange anthers. | Source

Alopecurus myosuroides


The genus Alopecurus

Alopecurus , is a genus of plants in the grass family,generally referred to as the Foxtail grasses. It is a common and widespread genus across temperate and sub tropical parts of Eurasia, northern Africa and the Americas.It has been introduced into other countries where it has become naturalized,such as Australia and on various islands.

They are species of annuals or perennials with flat blades and blunt ligules { a small flap at the junctions of the leaf and stem.}. Some species are classed as weeds others are utilized to brighten a bouquet of dried flowers.

Alopecurus aequalis, is often referred to as the Short awn or Orange foxtail. It is native to much of the temperate northern hemisphere,from Eurasia,and North America, where it may be encountered in a diverse range of habitat. In its native state it can be very variable in appearance. It produces erect stems between four inches and two feet eight inches in height. The leaves which are known as blades are short and rarely exceed four inches long. The cylindrical inflorescense {flowering head} is a couple on inches long and blooms with white to yellow or bright orange anthers.

Alopecurus myosuroides, is an annual species found on cultivated and waste land and is sometimes referred to as the slender meadow foxtail or twitch grass. It is native to Eurasia where it grows in moist meadows, and deciduous forests. In the UK, it is recognised as one of the most damaging weeds in winter cereal crops. In Washington State it is classed as a noxious weed, it is one of the states where winter wheat is a major crop.

It attains the height of up to two and a half feet { 80 cm ], and often grows in tufts. The blades are hairless. The leaf sheath is smooth and of a green purple colour. The leaf blade is pointed and from one and a quarter to six and a half inches long. The leaves are green and have a rough texture. The spikelets are cylindrical,yellow-green,pale green or purple in colour. The flowers appear from May until August.

Alopecurus arundinaceus


Alopecurus geniculatus. Inflorescens


Alopecurus arundinaceus and Alopecurus geniculatus

Alopecurus arundinaceus, is a species native to Eurasia and North Africa,but it is a species that has been widely introduced elsewhere. It is considered useful for forage and for erosion control.It is found in damp and saline grassy land and growing on the banks of waterways,and also in mountainous regions up to twelve hundred meters.

Flowering occurs from April until July. It is extremely adapted to harsh cold winter temperatures and wet conditions. It is also a very long lived species. The species was introduced to the United States around the end of the nineteenth century and with the advent of more advanced machinery in the nineteen thirty's and forties it became more widely grown as a forage plant,which produced high yields.

Alopecurus geniculatus, is often referred to as the water foxtail because of its habit of growing in moist to wet areas. It is native to Eurasia and has been introduced to other countries such as North and South America and Australia. It is a perennial grass which produces erect stems of about twenty four inches in height. The leaves are about six inches {12 cm } long. The flowers are formed in dense panicles up to seven centimeters { almost three inches } long,which produces dusty looking yellow-orange anthers .

There have been numerous species that was once included in the genus,which have now been moved into other genera such as Agrostis and Chaetopogoa and Setaria,to name but a few.


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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 11 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I had no idea that there were so many different types of aloe. The medicinal benefits of aloe are wonderful particularly for skin irritations and mild burns. I can attest to that!

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 23 months ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi Devika,

      Thank you for your encouraging comments and for your tweet both of which are much appreciated.


      Hi Deb, thank you too, your comments mean a lot to me .

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 23 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      I really like the succulents, my mother having grown hens and chickens when I was just a kid, so I got an early start with those. I became interested in grasses as a young adult, and a brightly colored flower will always excite me. Fabulous work, keep it up!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 23 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Beautiful plants and you taught me more about these plants. Tweeted!