Aloe saponaria Haw.


Liliaceae (Lily Family)


South Africa



                                        February Photo


Plant Characteristics: Stiff basal rosette of 12-20 succulent leaves, almost acaulescent, lvs., ascending or spreading, lance-oblong, acuminate, 6-10 in. long, 1 2-2 1/2 in. wide, with irregular transverse rows of whitish spots and large marginal brown teeth; infl. 1 1/2-2 1/2 ft. high, simple or branched, racemes 2-3 in. long; pedicels arcuate-erect; fls. 1 1/2-1 3/4 in. long, red, the segms. greenish, 1/3 in. long; stamens equaling perianth.


Habitat:  Escape from cultivation.  Flowers over a long period in the spring.  (Sunset Editors, New Western Garden Book, 1984. 175).


Name:  Aloe, from an old Arabic name.  (Bailey 209).  Latin, saponis, soap.  (Jaeger 228).  Probably the crushed foliage or tissues have a soap-like or detergent effect when rubbed on the hands, or cloth, in water.  (John Johnson).


General:  Found only on the Castaways bluffs and I suspect that plants or parts of plants were thrown over the bank when the old restaurant was there.  The restaurant burned in l955 or l956, and in l957 and l958, while I worked for the Irvine Co., I transplanted a number of these plants to a cactus garden at my home in Costa Mesa. (my comments).       Some people brush their gums with aloe gel, says Eric Shapira, D.D.S., a dentist in private practice in Granada, CA.  "It's a healing agent and it will reduce some of the plaque in your mouth," he says.  (Tkac, Editor 308).       "We're starting to see evidence in medical literature that aloe vera may really help wound healing," says University of Nebraska dermatologist and assistant professor of internal medicine Rodney M. Basler, M.D.  Simply break off a leaf and apply the juice.  But test a small area first, he cautions, to make sure you're not allergic to aloe.  (Tkac, Editor 573).       The so called American aloe is Agave.  (Bailey 209).     Species perhaps 200 in the Old World, largely in tropics and South Africa.  (Bailey 208).       Apparently sterile but spreading vegetatively.  (Hickman, Ed. 1172).       A. vera, the Curacao or Barbados aloe, with greenish-orange flowers, is used for minor burns, sunburn, and insect bites.  (Meyer 6).       Comparison of the DNA sequences for various genes, usually those found in the chloroplast of the plant cell has led biologists to propose many changes in the plant families as they are now known.  It is proposed to move the genus Aloe from Liliaceae to Asphodelaceae  (Kelch, Dean G. “Consider the Lilies” FREMONTIA, A Journal of the California Native Plant Society Vol. 30 No. 2 April 2002 pp. 23-29).


Text Ref:  Bailey 209; Hickman, Ed. 1172.

Photo Ref:  Feb 2 84 # 12,13.

Identity: by R. De Ruff, tentatively O.K.’d by F. Roberts.

First Found:  February 1984.


Computer Ref:  Plant Data 109.

No plant specimen.

Last edit 5/27/04.


                                           February Photo