Aloe congolensis

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Geoff
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Aloe congolensis

#1

Post by Geoff »

This is a curious aloe in that it keeps getting 'left out' of the books on aloes (including the latest Definitive Guide). I am not sure why this is but it certainly needs to be described officially as it is a very common plant in cultivation. Not sure where it got its name though I assume it is from the Congo or nearby? Some have tried to lump this in with Aloe dorotheae, which is a spotted, larger plant with different flowers (though same wimpy cold hardiness), but I don't think that will stick. I have seen this plant for sale at Home Depot and many non-specialty nurseries. It is an excellent potted plant, and even a great landscape plant as long as you live in a frost free climate. This is one of the top wimps when it comes to cold sensitivity, and a large clump I had got complete defoliated (thankfully it grow back from its root stock as it is a very aggressive off-setter).

Aloe congolensis is a bright green, shiny aloe with smallish rosettes (6" across at the most) of stiff, unbendable (or they fracture) plastic-like leaves with exceptionally large teeth. Plants grow on sprawling stems and each stem retains many leaves (if watered well, which this plant sure seems to like being), sometimes for several feet or more. Flowers are late summer and on single stalks and are openly conical.

History of plant in my yard (potted one)
look of plant when first acquired
look of plant when first acquired
Aloe congolensis reddish near new year.jpg (216.01 KiB) Viewed 3274 times
darkening in full sun
darkening in full sun
Aloe congolensis nice colors out front.jpg (157.26 KiB) Viewed 3274 times
completely melted by cold wave at 25F
completely melted by cold wave at 25F
Aloe congolensis pot 3 weeks later 1-07.jpg (200.12 KiB) Viewed 3274 times
Close up of a sucker growing in garden same freeze
Close up of a sucker growing in garden same freeze
Aloe congolensis rotted but alive mound 4-07.jpg (130.17 KiB) Viewed 4853 times
Look after warming back up
Look after warming back up
Aloe congolensis mess.jpg (226.63 KiB) Viewed 3274 times
Look then next year- recovery!
Look then next year- recovery!
Beginning to sucker agressively
Beginning to sucker agressively
Aloe congolensis suckeirn OK.jpg (180.25 KiB) Viewed 3274 times
Flowering in August 4 years later
Flowering in August 4 years later
Aloe congolensis yet again with flower 8-12.jpg (205.44 KiB) Viewed 4853 times
Aloe congolensis in flower from its level 8-12.jpg
Close up shots
Aloe congolensis flweor bud 12-10.jpg
Aloe congolensis flweor bud 12-10.jpg (120.56 KiB) Viewed 4853 times
Aloe congolensis in sun 1-12.jpg
Aloe congolensis in sun 1-12.jpg (134.81 KiB) Viewed 4853 times
Aloe congolensis redness 1-12.jpg
Aloe congolensis redness 1-12.jpg (161.98 KiB) Viewed 4853 times
problem with having gardeners (crushed, but OK)
problem with having gardeners (crushed, but OK)
Aloe congolensis gardener crush 2-13.jpg (135.83 KiB) Viewed 4853 times
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Geoff
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Re: Aloe congolensis

#2

Post by Geoff »

Aloe congolensis in flwoer May SB.jpg
Aloe congolensis in flwoer May SB.jpg (142.93 KiB) Viewed 4840 times
Aloe congolensis flower in May SB.jpg
Aloe congolensis flower in May SB.jpg (143.77 KiB) Viewed 4840 times
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mickthecactus
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Re: Aloe congolensis

#3

Post by mickthecactus »

I've just read that this has been referred to Aloe buettneri. Congolensis is a synonym. http://www.llifle.com/Encyclopedia/SUCC ... ongolensis" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Geoff
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Re: Aloe congolensis

#4

Post by Geoff »

the description and photos do not appear to even closely match this species. A buettneri is a usually solitary, bulbous species that is somewhat deciduous, flowers on tall, upright stalks and tiny marginal teeth. None of those describe this plant at all. This plant has no bulb, is sprawling with long stems, huge teeth, arching inflorescence and certainly no tendency towards being deciduous. Not sure who came up with that, but there are lot of existing species that would come a lot closer this plant than does Aloe buettneri.
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mickthecactus
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Re: Aloe congolensis

#5

Post by mickthecactus »

Don't shoot the messenger........

And here as well - http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-297260" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

As you say they look nothing like each other.
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Arinda
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Re: Aloe congolensis

#6

Post by Arinda »

From the site of San Marcus Growers



Products > Aloe congolensis

Aloe congolensis - Congo Aloe

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Aloeaceae (Aloes)
Origin: Congo (Brazzaville) (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Orange Red
Bloomtime: Fall/Winter
Synonyms: [Aloe dorotheae hybrid?]
Height: Prostrate
Width: 2-4 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F

Aloe congolensis (Congo Aloe) - A small clustering aloe to 6 to 8 inches tall with tight 5 inch wide rosettes on stems that lie along the ground to 2 feet long with short bright green shiny wedge-shaped leaves that have a slight recurved tip and sharp teeth - leaves take on a reddish-brown cast when drought or cold stressed. In late fall to early winter appear 1 foot tall unbranched inflorescence with reddish-orange flowers. Grows slowly and offsets to form a nice small dense groundcover and makes a nice potted specimen or even a hanging basket plant. Plant in full sun (best color) to light shade and irrigate occasionally. Hardy to 28 to 30 F. The name Aloe congolensis is not a verified species name but this plant has long been offered and passed around under this name which was first used by De Wildeman and T. Durand in 1899 but this name is often noted as “imperfectly known or doubtful” as Gilbert Reynolds does in “Aloes of Tropical Africa and Madagascar”. The entry for this plant in this book notes that the plants first described came from sandy bush near Kimuenza in the Congo and that it may be conspecific with Aloe buettneri, though images of this plant look much different and Aloe buettneri is described as having wider leaves and a bulb-like swelling not apparent in the plants known as Aloe congolensis. This name also does not appear in Aloes: The Definite Guide published in 2011. Our plants came from the UCSB Biology Greenhouse collection. This plant was particularly prone to aloe mite damage and we discontinued production of it. This description is based on our research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We also try to incorporate comments received from others and appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Aloe congolensis.

I believe this is also possible.
They call the synonym Aloe dorotheae hybrid. And indeed Aloe dorotheae from Tanzania has something to do with it. Like Aloe morijensis from kenya.
In our time there are no more Aloes in Congo. But in the time of Belgian domination, mention is made of it.
It is therefore possible that Aloe congolensis originates from Congo but that the site was destroyed a long time ago. Similar to Aloe zubb. (ex Aloe sinkatana (in culture)). Making it impossible to name this Aloe.


However, it remains a special aloe, with a particularly beautiful growth.
Stan
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Re: Aloe congolensis

#7

Post by Stan »

I bought it thinking it WAS A.dorotheae. Its been a slow steady grower all our cool summer. I've had to constantly prune Miribalis (4 OClocks) away from shading it. It SEEMS hardier to cold then A.dorotheae..but last winter wasnt a test. A. dorotheae has done well a couple of winters twice for me..both times melting in what I recall as slightly colder then average frosts..those 3 or 4 frosts in five days arctic things we get. Still,never below 30f. Lets see how the Congo handles that..or better, never has too.
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