Common name: Soap Aloe, Zulu names: icena, amahlala, Sotho name: lekhala, Afrikaans name: Bontaalwyn
Winter days are not particularly dreary in the Midlands, however a splash of orange in the faded grasslands is always delight. Aloe maculata, can be relied on to provide that. The flat-topped inflorescence can have many branches, each topped with flowers ranging from red, through orange to yellow. Young buds are erect with older flowers drooping.
The broad, recurved leaves are triangular shaped and this aloe usually has no stem, although a short stem does form over a long period of time. The leaves have brown teeth along the margin and are spotted (maculata means ‘splotched’), making them pretty easy to identify even though they occur in a variety of habitats – including rocky out crops, open grassland and thicket.
In traditional medicine, crushed leaf infusions are used as enemas following the use of other purgative medicines. Reports include use of stems and leaves, in powdered and infusion form, as cleansing agents after the ingestion of too much food, alcohol or narcotics. This plant is the logo of the Mpophomeni Conservation Group – where it is flowering profusely at the moment, despite being burnt.
Why not join the regular walk on the second Tuesday of each month, to explore Mpophomeni grasslands for yourself? Book with Penelope Malinga 0084 226 5227 Donation R20 to MCG.
Thanks to Penelope Malinga, Christeen Grant and Nkululeko Mdladla for the photogaphs.