Plant growing in its native habitat
Photograph by: Ton Rulkens
Aloe christianii is a succulent, evergreen, perennial plant, usually forming a single rosette of leaves that can be up to 1 metre in diameter. The plant occasionally suckers to form a small group of plants. Young plants are stemless, but older plants can develop a stem that can eventually be up to 1 metre tall and 12cm in diameter[
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local medicinal use.
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[
Tropical Africa - DR Congo, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe.
In wooded tall grassland subject to annual burning, and in Brachystegia woodland, at elevations from 300 - 1,675 metres[
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[
A leaf infusion is taken to induce abortion in parts of Africa, but it is considered too poisonous for this purpose in Zimbabwe[
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[
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[
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