Aloe ferox

Flowers and Foliage
Common Name: Cape aloe 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asphodelaceae
Native Range: South Africa, Lesotho
Zone: 9 to 12
Height: 6.50 to 12.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Red to orange
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Herb
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Best grown in dry, sandy loams in full sun. Provide occasional supplemental irrigation during periods of summer drought for fastest growth and best appearance. Tolerant of light frost. Temperatures below 25°F will damage the foliage. Hardy in Zones 9b(25°F)-12.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aloe ferox, commonly called Cape aloe or bitter aloe, is tree-type aloe native to rocky slopes, open scrublands, and grasslands of southern Africa. Mature plants can reach 6.5-12' tall and 3-5' wide with a single-stemmed, upright trunk topped with a dense rosette of succulent foliage. The rigid, evergreen, lance-shaped leaves are blue-green in color with small, brown, spine-like prickles along their margins and both upper and lower surfaces. The leaves can reach 2-3' long and 6" wide. A single, branched inflorescence bearing dense, 1' long, upright racemes emerges from the rosette at various times of the year depending on rainfall and winter conditions. The racemes bear numerous 1" long, tubular, flowers that range in color from red to orange and are attractive to hummingbirds and other pollinators.

The genus name Aloe comes from the Arabic name of these perennial succulents.

The specific epithet ferox means "war-like", in reference to the prickly leaves of this species.

The common name Cape aloe refers to the region of southern Africa where this plant is native. The common name bitter aloe refers to the traditional medicinal uses of this species as a purgative.


No major pest or disease problems of note. Overly moist or waterlogged soils will lead to root or crown rot.


Specimen plant for xeriscaping, desert gardens, and rock gardens. Can be grown in a large container. The leaf gel of this species has similar traditional cosmetic and medicinal applications as Aloe vera including to moisturize hair and skin and the treatment of minor burns and skin irritations. Sap extracted from the trunk of this species has traditional medicinal uses including as a laxative and purgative.