Aloe plants are known for their imposing leaf rosettes. There are nearly 500 different types of these succulents. These include both edible and poisonous varieties. The most famous representative among the countless varieties is undisputedly the edible aloe vera.
In order to recognize and differentiate the plants correctly, we have listed some known and lesser-known types of aloe plants as a small guide.
1,000 Types of Succulents With Pictures
Edible Types of Aloe Plants
Note: Unpeeled leaves of the aloes are not edible. They contain high levels of anthranoids, which are toxic. Likewise, gel should not necessarily be prepared from the leaves yourself. Even with the most careful separation of the leaf shell, aloin can get into the gel. This ingredient is also toxic.
- Bush-like growth
- 60 to 80 cm long inflorescence
- Bright red to scarlet flower color
Aloe arborescens is not only edible but also approved as a medicinal plant. The juice from the leaves can heal burns.
This tree aloe is also known under the name Cape aloe or bitter aloe. It has its origin in the arid regions of South Africa. The trunk can easily reach a height of 3 meters. It is covered with pale green, slightly reddish-tinged leaves. They are thick-fleshed and have brown, hard thorns on the edges. The top and bottom of the leaf have thorny spines. The leaf length varies between 80 and 100 centimeters.
- Flower clusters up to 130 cm high
- Branched inflorescences
- Bright scarlet to orange flower color
The thickened juice of the leaves is used as a remedy.
- 60 cm high flower stem
- Tubular flowers
- Flower color yellow to orange
- Flowering April to August
The gel inside the leaf is particularly suitable for consumption. It is found in various industrially manufactured foods such as yogurt.
The plants are also known for their medicinal properties. The ingredients of the plants are also used in the cosmetics industry, for example in body lotions and creams. They are also used in everyday objects such as panty liners or cotton swabs.
How To Grow An Aloe Vera Without Roots
Poisonous Types of Aloe Plants
The majority of the aloe species are unsuitable for consumption because of their toxicity.
As the name suggests, this representative comes from Africa. Their very spreading leaves, which are arranged in a rosette, are particularly striking. The leaf surface is bare, underneath there are reddish thorns and the tip of the leaf is also covered with red thorns. The trunk is upright and can reach a height of 4 meters.
- Branched growth
- Candle-like inflorescences
- Densely occupied
- Flower color bright yellow to orange
- 50 cm high inflorescence
- Flowering in May
- Orange flowers
- Only last a few days
- Inflorescences 30 cm long
- The flower color is deep red
This Spiral aloe does not form a stem. As the name suggests, the leaves are arranged in a spiral. They are somewhat egg-shaped to elongated and tapering to a point at their ends. They are arranged in five spiral rows. The leaves are green with a purple tip. It is one of the few species that can survive a few freezing temperatures over a short period of time.
- Densely branched inflorescence
- Height 50 to 60 cm
- Flower color light red to deep salmon red
It is a stem-forming Aloe species. This consists of several parts. There are sometimes up to five shoots. They can very often be covered with dead leaves. Otherwise the leaves are beautifully colored light green.
- Flowers appear in summer
- Buds inconspicuous
- Coral red flower color
- Hence the name “Coral Aloe”
This is a dwarf form of the aloes. It reaches a height of 40 cm. However, it must be said that it can reach a height of 4 meters in its home. The 10 to 15 cm long and lanceolate, fleshy leaves are arranged around the trunk like roof tiles. At first they stand upright and as they get older they tend to be curled up. The leaf color is green with irregular, white transverse bands. The first flowers appear with a plant size of 10 to 15 cm. The stem can easily tip over if there are numerous flowers.
- 30 cm high flower stem
- Flowering April to May
- Flower color pale pink to scarlet red
Aloe aculeata plants differ from others of their kind in that they have no trunk. They are rather creeping and growing with a length of up to 70 centimeters. The large rosette of leaves with thick, thorny leaves is very striking. They are up to 60 centimeters long and approximately 12 centimeters wide.
- Up to 100 cm high inflorescence
- Bright lemon yellow in color
The Aloe acutissima is a rare succulent species. It is native to Madagascar and usually grows in rocky regions. It is also commonly referred to as the Blue Spider Aloe.
It has branches that give way to long and slender but fleshy leaves that are pale green to lilac or pink in color. The edges of each leaf are characterized by teeth or spines, ending in a pointed tip.
Aloe alooides are native to South Africa. They tend to grow as solitary stems that can grow as tall as 2 meters in height. The leaves usually have a green color with parts of them becoming reddish-brown due to exposure to strong sunlight.
The flowers usually bloom in clusters and are extremely tiny. They have a bell-like shape and are yellow in color.
The Aloe arenicola is also called the sand aloe. It tends to creep and grow horizontally on the ground and has a maximum vertical height of less than 30 inches.
This plant has narrow leaves that are dark green in color, sometimes appearing bluish-grey while sometimes also turning reddish-brown. The leaves have numerous white spots on them and are thick and rough in texture.
The Aloe bakeri is a flowering plant species that is native to Madagascar. It can grow up to a maximum height of 8 inches and a maximum width of 16 inches. Its leaves grow in rosettes that are closely packed together.
The leaves of this plant are narrow and sticky. They are light green in color, although they can turn pinkish-red when exposed to strong sunlight. They also have numerous white spots on them.
The Aloe bellatula grows as a succulent with leaf rosettes that form in the absence of a stem. The leaves are long and narrow and can grow up to 5 inches in height.
The leaves are green in color and can also appear grey and red in the presence of strong sunlight. Each side of the leaf is further covered with rough white spots and the top part of the leaf is usually a bit curved.
The leaves also have sharp ridges or spines along their edges. The plant further blooms bright red flowers that are bell-like in shape.
These representatives of the plant genus originally come from South Africa. The plants can reach a height of up to one meter. The trunk is relatively short and has leaves that are 30 centimeters wide. These narrow towards the leaf base. There they are only 10 centimeters wide.
- Inflorescences up to 150 cm high
- Flower color whitish to lemon yellow
- Leaf tip brownish in color
Aloe camperi is a rare species of Aloe native to Africa. It grows in small clumps that grow up to 3 feet tall. It looks like a typical aloe plant except for one thing—it grows long spindly brown branches that grow beautiful orange-red flowers in the late spring.
These flower stems are taller than the rest of the plant. This unique feature is the reason Aloe Camperi is also known as popcorn aloe. It grows in partial shade and doesn’t require much water to survive.
Aloe carmine is an evergreen but slow-growing succulent. It grows clumps of rosettes and reaches a maximum height of 10 inches. It rarely blooms, but it can grow striking red flowers on long spindly branches during the blooming season.
Its leaves are dotted with orange in the middle and on the sides. It can survive in either full sunlight or partial shade.
Aloe castilloniae is a rare succulent native to Madagascar that grows primarily on sandstone. It doesn’t grow too tall as the stems are very weak. They droop to the sides as they grow instead of standing upright, resembling vines.
The leaves are small and triangular with reddish spikes on the edges. The plant grows red flowers during the blooming season. The growing season falls in winter and the plant needs to be protected from frost.
This species has its origin in Africa. It is relatively undemanding. It usually grows in small groups. The green leaves are framed by a reddish-green border.
- 60 to 80 cm high inflorescence
- branched growing
- Bright brick red flower color
Aloe conifera originated in Madagascar. It grows in the crevices of granite rocks and thrives in warm climates. The stem is very short and doesn’t extend beyond the base. The fleshy leaves grow in small rosettes that don’t grow more than ½ inch tall.
They are light green in color with a whitish sheen and have reddish teeth along the edges. There can be multiple rosettes, but they grow very slowly. These succulents are quite popular in rock gardens.
Aloe Coral Fire
Aloe Coral Fire is a unique-looking succulent that grows clumps of rosettes. The leaves grow on a short trunk. Aloe coral fire is named so because of the distinct pinkish-red or coral edges of the leaves.
The edges are set in vivid contrast against the dark green leaves and are ridged. The teeth on the edges look prickly, but they are actually soft to the touch. The color of the teeth darkens as the plant matures.
Aloe Crosby’s Prolific
Aloe Crosby’s Prolific is a short succulent that grows in small rosettes. The triangular green leaves are spotted with white. They also have white teeth on the edges.
The flowers grow on peduncles that can be up to 18 inches tall. During the blooming season, it is quite a sight with vivid orange flowers atop the tall peduncles. When exposed to a lot of sunlight, the leaves can start appearing reddish.
As a rule, these aloes always grow individually. There is also no trunk. The leaves are upright and slightly pointed at the end. They can be 60 to 90 centimeters long.
- Branched inflorescence
- Height up to 175 cm
- The flowers are bright orange to scarlet red
- Flower slightly pointed yellowish
Aloe descoingsii grows in densely packed clumps. It is widely known as the smallest of the Aloe plants as it has no stem and no considerable vertical length. The tapered leaves are dark green and have white warts all over their surface.
They also have white teeth along the edges. The blooming season lasts from spring to summer, when red or yellow flowers grow on peduncles about 6 inches tall. It is native to Madagascar and grows very slowly.
Aloe divaricata is a suckering aloe that can grow to a height of 5 to 7 feet. The long tapered leaves are arranged in closely packed rosettes.
The leaves have red tooth margins and their color can be dark green or purplish depending on the amount of sunlight it receives. It grows striking red flowers on woody stems that protrude from the rosettes. It is native to Madagascar and grows in sandy soils.
Aloe ellenbeckii is a small-sized aloe originating in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. It grows long, droopy leaves that grow outwards. They are dark green with white markings and white teeth along the edges.
Aloe erinacea is a small-sized aloe originating in Namibia. It has long, thin leaves that grow in spherical rosettes. The leaves are green with a brownish hue and have sharp thorns along the edges.
Aloe excelsa is a tall-sized aloe originating in South Africa. It can reach a height of up to 20 feet. It only has one stem and doesn’t branch out. The long, narrow leaves are dark green and taper towards the end.
Aloe falcata is native to South Africa and can grow in extremely hot climates and in rocky or sandy soils. It is very popular in dry gardens as it doesn’t need a lot of water to survive. It grows in clumps and the stems curve outwards as they grow.
Aloe Firebird is a hybrid aloe. It has beautiful green leaves that are loosely arranged in a rosette and covered with white speckles. It doesn’t grow very tall. Rather, it covers a lot of ground as the rosettes extend outwards and not upright.
Aloe fleurentiniorum originated in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. It is also known as Yemeni brown aloe. It doesn’t have a stem and grows pretty close to the ground. Its long, narrow and tapered leaves grow in a rosette with a diameter of 2 to 3 feet.
Aloe gariepensis is a small-sized aloe originating in Namibia and South Africa. It grows to a height of 3 to 4 feet. It can either be stemless or have very short stems.
The home of these aloes is in Botswana. Usually they grow in groups. The green and white spotted leaves stand together in a dense rosette. The relatively large teeth on the leaf margins are impressive.
- 90 cm high inflorescence
- Branched growing
- Flower color pale red to whitish
Aloe harlana is a medium aloe native to Ethiopia. It is stemless and the leaves grow in densely packed rosettes. It has an average height of 2 feet but can cover a lot of ground with its numerous rosettes.
Aloe haworthioides is a small aloe originating in Madagascar. It grows very fast and is also called the hawthorn-leaved aloe. The leaves are shaped like lances and grow upright in rosettes up to a height of 4 inches.
These stemless aloes are native to South Africa. They have a short stature. The narrow, very fleshy and up to 30 centimeters long leaves are arranged in a rosette. The strong green leaves are covered with white, small warts. The plants have an ornamental value.
- Inflorescences up to 40 cm high
- 3 cm long flowers in racemes
- Flowering March to April
- Coral red with yellow tips
Aloe jucunda is a very small Somalian succulent. It grows fleshy, triangular green leaves speckled with white in rosettes. The margins have reddish teeth and the leaves can also be tinged with red at the ends.
This type of aloe has its origin in North Africa. The trunk is usually creeping and growing. The upright leaves are very slender. In young plants, they are spotted white and turn green with age.
- Branched inflorescence
- Height up to 120 cm
- Flower color deep carmine
This variety is originally from South Africa. At a young age it grows close to the ground. A trunk only forms with increasing age. The plant can reach a height of 2 meters. The leaves are relatively thin, but very long. They are light green to yellowish in color and there are red spines on the edges.
- 75 to 100 cm long stem
- Salmon pink flower color
They can grow individually or in small groups. Usually, the trunk is very short and prostrate. The blue-green spiked leaves are slightly curved inward. This makes them look a bit spherical in shape. The Aloe peglerae is one of the endangered species.
- 40 cm high inflorescence
- Flower color creamy white to pale red
Aloe saponaria (Aloe maculata)
This species is also known as soap aloe. The plant parts contain a gel that can be used to wash hands or laundry. The aloe species can grow individually or sometimes in dense groups.
- 40 to 100 cm high inflorescence
- Flower color varies from salmon pink to orange and yellow to red
The gel of the plants is used in the manufacture of cosmetic products. Consumption should be avoided.
Why, When, and How to Prune Aloe Plants
Plants that Look Like Aloe
There are a few plants that are commonly mistaken for aloe due to their appearance. Among them are:
The agave is a succulent that looks like aloe. This has a short trunk and lanceolate, thick-fleshed leaves. They become up to 2 meters long and 25 centimeters wide. Their edges also have thorns. In contrast to aloe, the juice of the agave is poisonous and irritates the skin. If agave is confused with aloe, it can have unpleasant consequences. Both types of plants actually look alike.
Aloe vs Agave
If you compare both plants, you will immediately discover the differences:
- The aloe leaf contains a thick gel, whereas the agave has fibers.
- The leaves of the aloe grow visibly from the center of the plant, the new agave leaves grow in the outer area under older specimens.
- A three-year-old aloe flowers twice a year, with the flowers growing sideways. The agave takes years to bloom.
- The aloe does not tolerate cold and is cultivated as an indoor plant. The agave can withstand temperatures down to -20 degrees.
- The juice of the aloe leaves contains substances that care for the skin and can even be used internally. A sweetener is made from agave juice, as is the Mexican national drink “pulque”. Sisal is made from its fibers. The juice in the leaves contains toxins and shouldn’t get on the skin or in wounds.
Although aloes and cacti are not botanically related, they have a lot in common. Both belong to the group of succulents, have thorns and, due to their well-developed water storage organs, are able to survive for a long time without water.
The aloes are a separate genus from the family of grass tree plants (Xanthorrhoeaceae) with a total of around 500 species. The cactus plants form their own family with over 100 genera and between 1500 and 1800 species. The cacti belong to the so-called stem succulents, i.e. they store water in their sprouts. The aloes, on the other hand, use their leaves as water storage organs, they are leaf succulents.
The gel contained in the leaves of aloe vera is valued for its skin-caring and regenerating ingredients. While the wild aloe species grow in the deserts and rocky regions of Africa and on the offshore islands, the areas under cultivation for extracting the gel from aloe vera can be found all over the world. The wild cacti occur naturally only on the American continent.
Aloes and cacti have even more in common:
- like all succulents they like it warm, bright and dry,
- they prefer sunny locations ,
- do not like excessive moisture and
- produce beautiful flowers under good conditions,
- the propagation is performed at both succulents by cuttings.