It has been proposed in Phytotaxa 76(1): 9 (2013) to transfer this taxon to the genus Aloidendron as Aloidendron dichotomum (Masson) R.R.Klopper & Gideon F.Sm.. This has been accepted in the African Plant Database[
], but not as yet (2013) by the Kew 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families'[
Aloe montana Schinz
Aloe ramosa Haw.
Aloidendron dichotomum (Masson) R.R.Klopper & Gideon F.Sm.
Rhipidodendrum dichotomum (Masson) Willd.
Photograph by: Marco Schmidt
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Aloe dichotoma is a succulent, evergreen tree with a small, rounded crown; it can grow from 3 - 9 metres tall. The bole can be unbranched for more than half of the tree's height, the branches only bearing leaves in terminal clusters[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials. It is planted as an ornamental in South Africa[
The bark on the trunk forms beautiful golden brown scales, but beware, the edges of these scales are razor sharp[
The sap of Aloe species contains anthraquinones. These compounds have several beneficial medicinal actions, particularly as a laxative, and many species of Aloe are thus employed in traditional medicine. Whilst safe in small doses and for short periods of time, anthraquinones do have potential problems if used in excess. These include congestion and irritation of the pelvic organs[
]. Long term use of anthraquinone laxatives may also play a role in development of colorectal cancer as they have genotoxic potential, and tumorigenic potential[
Southern Africa - Namibia, S. Africa.
Open, rocky areas in arid savannah[
]. Arid, rocky hillsides in Namaqualand broken veld, succulent karoo and various karroid grassland veld types[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
A plant of arid areas in the tropics and subtropics. It can tolerate occasional, short-lived temperatures as low as -5°c so long as conditions are not wet[
]. The trunk is not as hardy as the leaves and benefits from some protection in colder weather[
Succeeds in full sun to light shade[
]. Requires a well-drained soil[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
Trees can live for over 80 years[
Aloe species follow the Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM). CAM plants can fix carbon dioxide at night and photosynthesize with closed stomata during the day, thus minimizing water loss. This, plus their succulent leaves and stems, and the presence of a thick cuticle, makes them well adapted to dry conditions[
Young flower buds - cooked[
]. A similar taste to asparagus[
A decoction of the roots is taken to treat asthma and tuberculosis[
The distinctive constituents in Aloe leaves are phenolic compounds, including chromone, anthraquinone or anthrone derivatives. Some of the compounds are found in many species, whereas others occur in only a few[
The hollow branches have been used as quivers for arrows[
The porous inner fibre of the trunk has been used as cooling material[
Large trunks of dead trees are hollowed out and used as a natural fridge. Water, vegetables, etc are stored inside it. The fibrous tissue of the trunk has a cooling effect as air passes through it, forming a so-called natural fridge[
Seed - we have no specific information on this species - in general Aloes are sown in a sandy, well-drained potting soil in a warm, shady position in standard seed trays. Germination takes about three weeks. Cover the seed with a thin layer of sand (1 - 2mm), keep moist. The seedlings can be planted out in individual bags or containers as soon as they are large enough to handle[
Truncheons can be used for propagation. They must be dried out for at least 3 weeks before planting in river sand. This is quite a difficult alternative and success is not always guaranteed[
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