Introduction to Aloe Plants
This huge African member of the lily family has hundreds of species and even more cultivars has succulent leaves and stems. There are many different forms and shapes of Aloes; from stemless to tall trees to vine-like branches to grass-like leaves the range of forms of aloes is quite diverse. Aloes have two primary uses by human beings; they are great landscaping plants and they are used for healing. This brief summary won't even scratch the surface of the many Aloe species. However, we will inform you of other resources for more indepth information on Aloes. Here are some examples of the different growth forms of aloe plants.
Prostrate, Stemless Aloes.
These kind of Aloes remain low to the ground, do not form a trunk, and may pup freely. A prime example would be Aloe saponaria. A single rosette may reach 2 feet (67cm) wide, but grow no taller than 15-20 inches. However, in the right climate it may form a colony of rosettes 1000 square feet.
Tree or Trunk Forming Aloes.
These king of Aloes grow tall like conventional trees. They may have one single straight trunk or have multiple thick upright trunks. Like palm trees, the tree starts out stemless. Then as the older leaves dry out the trunk gets taller. The new leaves grow from the tops of the stems. Two good examples would be Aloe ferox adn A. dichotoma.
These kind of Aloes grow long and limp. They depend on other sturdy trees and shrubs for upright support. These kind of Aloes can form a large shrub of hundreds of stems or have few stems that lay on the ground and run for several meters. Some examples would be Aloe ciliaris and A. distans.
As the name implies, these Aloes look like grass. They grow in the grasslands of South Africa and have adapted the same characteristics as the surrounding plant community. However, unlike conventional grasses their long narrow leaves are succulent. The most popular species occasionally offered is Aloe cooperi.