Of the large tree Aloes, Aloe dichotoma is my favorite. This Aloe is from Southern Africa in region called Namaqualand. It grows in semi-desert and desert areas. In its natural habitat it is often the only tree to be found. It seems to grow mostly on hills and their slopes. It can grow up to 10 meters in height, with a trunk width of up to a meter. As the tree Aloe grows it forms two branches from a single "head', hence the name dichotoma.
Leaves of Aloe dichotoma have a bluish color with teeth along the margins. I have found the first "split" of the growing rosette usually occurs at about one meter or so. One of the characteristics of Aloe dichotoma I really like is the trunk. As the trunk grows it becomes swollen, and develops a rich character. The trunk forms fissures, and various color appear which give the appearance of great age and strength. My Aloe dichotoma plants have taken approximately 10 years to reach blooming size. Flowers are born on a inflorescence. They are numerous and bright yellow in color.
Aloe dichotoma in Garden
Aloe dichotoma, old specimen
Closeup of Aloe dichotoma
Wonderful Trunk Detail
Closeup of Aloe dichotoma Flowers
Aloe dichotoma is of easy culture. They are best grown in well drained soil, and in full sun. Young plants will appreciate some shade. Most Aloes are winter growers. One must be careful not to over water older plants in the summer months. Younger plants seem to do just fine with summer water. If you live in a tropical climate try planting your Aloes in the ground. The growth rate in the ground is amazing. Light occasional feeding will keep your plants healthy strong. I grow most of my Aloes from seed, however they can be grown from cuttings also. Make sure your cuttings have been left to callus for at least a couple months. I then place the cuttings in either all pumice or perilite. It can take up to a year to grow new roots. Be patient!
One year seedling of
Aloe dichotoma seedlings six months old.
Two year old seedling of Aloe dichotoma. Notice elongation of stem beginning.
Aloe "Hercules", cross between Aloe dichotoma and Aloe barberae