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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Oct 17, 2018 9:17 AM CST
This first one is an heirloom plant. The first memory of it was at a grandmother's home. I'm nearly 71yoa and I really can't remember a time it wasn't growing somewhere. It was always called 'Aloe vera', but I think that's probably incorrect. It rarely blooms, but the blooms are sort of pastel coral orange without branching. I just call it an Aloe. I've never considered it particularly attractive until I bought this huge ceramic container just for the plant. It matches the rim when it's stressed - usually in the spring when it goes back outdoors. The container is really difficult to move, so I usually just let it freeze and start over in the spring. I have two nursery pots crammed full that I move inside to use. This one is considered a medicinal plant by a lot of people. I've had the juice slimed over burns and insect bites. Never was impressed by it's healing qualities myself Green Grin! .
Thumb of 2018-10-17/needrain/c8db19

This is my newest acquisition. I traded the aloe following this one. It was a pup the lady pried loose. It sat there for a long time doing nothing, but then it took off. It will still get larger than this, I think. At least the source parent was larger.
Thumb of 2018-10-17/needrain/2f5197 Thumb of 2018-10-17/needrain/f4b06d

I think this one is beautiful. I rescued a couple from a planting where the owners were going to eliminate them because Bermuda grass had completely invaded the colony. I took two plants and traded one for the previous Aloe. That was 200 miles south of my location. I doubt it would survive the winters here outdoors. The old heirloom plant also survives outdoors there and it rarely does that here. But this is also my problem plant. The edges cut me and it basically out grew the 14" diameter container - or at least grew enough I couldn't move the container without being scratched. It did really well until I watered it and then got an unexpected 1/2" of rain the night following it was in full bloom and the stalk and center just collapsed two days later. I was unhappy, but laid the container on it's side and the core is still putting out pups. I have to do something different. I think I'm going to try and rig up handles on a cattle tub and give it a much larger container. I may need help moving it, but it has to come inside for the coldest spells. Some photos. The one of the bloom is from last summer, but that's how it was looking when it cratered this summer. The second photo was when it was stressing from the drought earlier this summer. It's very green when the weather's nicer. The third is where it is now and you can see the old core which is finally completely dead. I had to cut open the center because it was making a well that held water and I was afraid it would rot and kill the increases. It was suggested to me that this is Soap Aloe (Aloe maculata). That looks right comparing photos,
Thumb of 2018-10-17/needrain/10d7bf
Thumb of 2018-10-17/needrain/42ae07
Thumb of 2018-10-17/needrain/e5a43a

We are having an unusual weather system for here and it's been raining - a lot! I've been moving some of the cacti and these last two into shelter to avoid them staying continually wet. Probably move some more succulents today. It also been record setting low temps. Weather is always fractious and unreliable here.




Donald
Name: Stefan
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skopjecollection
Oct 17, 2018 10:24 AM CST
The first one appears to be baja's so called aloe officinialis. I dont know the what would be color you "wrote" of though....
[Last edited by skopjecollection - Oct 17, 2018 10:26 AM (+)]
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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Oct 17, 2018 12:58 PM CST
skopjecollection said:The first one appears to be baja's so called aloe officinialis. I dont know the what would be color you "wrote" of though....


When it's stressed it turns brown rather than the green in this photo. The same color you see on the top lip of the container. When I dump out and plant in the spring, all the plants are already stressed from winter storage and they also have not adjusted to the sunlight conditons. They are brown until the root system gets established at which time they begin the process of turning the green in the photo. Because I have so many, the pot is relatively full of plants and the effect is they match the visible rim of the container. If these plants get really dry or if I were to move the container into full sun, for a while those in the photo would turn brown. Until they make the adjustment. Generally I don't water it, but it gets some secondary water from hanging containers over and around it when I'm giving those plants water. Minimal water, but not none either. Too much water and freezing temps are the only things I've found that kill the plant. It's a tough grower. The two spare containers have been around for 3-4 years now and I just dumped the excess from a huge planting in them. The only soil they have is what they had stuck on them. I've been impressed. They grow and offset in those containers. This past spring the pot I dumped out was crammed full of plants that were below the top of the container. This particular plant is one I consider an almost no-kill plant. I hope in the long term the other two Aloes prove to be as durable.
Donald
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Oct 17, 2018 1:01 PM CST
skopjecollection said:The first one appears to be baja's so called aloe officinialis. I dont know the what would be color you "wrote" of though....


Checked that out in the database. Sure looks like the photos there. Mine has never been so generous about blooming as the big group in the DB photo, but the blooms look correct for when it does happen.
Donald
Name: Thijs van Soest
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mcvansoest
Oct 17, 2018 1:04 PM CST
Nice plants Donald!

As to the first one. It could be Aloe officinalis as Stefan suggests. I think that currently the available information on the internet is confusing and likely wrong in many places. However, if you have to believe the inflorescence picture that you can find listed for it on a Kew Gardens related website, it has yellow flowers, similar to Aloe vera, but distinct in how they are carried on the inflorescence. That would make your plant with it is coral/salmon flowers not Aloe officinalis. Looking at it, it looks a lot like what I have growing that was identified as Aloe massawana to me. The flower color you describe would match that plant, but of course there is quite some conflicting imagery and information on that plant as well. Mainly regarding its clumping or solitary growth habit. Yours like mine is clearly clumping and spotted when young, maybe loosing the spots with age.
Now things get a little more complicated as a much more recently described Aloe, Aloe eumassawana first described in the 90s from near a place called Massawana in Eritrea, seems to fit the description of your and my plant much better in terms of growth habit and flowers... So if I had to give your plant a name I would go with Aloe eumassawana, with the caveat that depending on sources you look at it could be Aloe massawana (which is from Tanzania) given that that was how my original plant to which I am comparing yours was named...

Your second plant could be Aloe vera, but until you have flower pictures to show it is hard to be certain. Aloe vera gets decidedly bigger than the other plants mentioned above and tends to only have some spotting on very young new offsets, of which it tends to make fewer.

Your final plant could indeed be Aloe saponaria, but when it comes to spotted aloes like that, there are many many different ones that all look very similar, most are distinguished by small differences in flower appearance and rarely by differences in the leaves. Aloe saponaria is very common, so it makes sense to go with that name.
It is what it is!
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Name: Stefan
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skopjecollection
Oct 17, 2018 1:41 PM CST
I dunno, baja said " definitive aloe guide says aloe vera look alike with lots of pups and red flowers is aloe officinialis" in a nutshell. Im aware that aloe massawana exists, but have not heard of it being popular.....
It is however, what i dub as "aloe vera chinensis". dont really know about the flower business, but it looks like an aloe vera, but generally smaller, and with lots of pups and dots.
The other one is likely the plantation aloe vera.....which i dub "aloe vera barbadensis".....
Ive seen plants like that on videos about aloe plantation. Spotless when old, large wide leaves....
The only real way to ID aloe vera proper is to look for sterile yellow flowers.....
Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Oct 17, 2018 2:02 PM CST

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skopjecollection said:The first one appears to be baja's so called aloe officinialis.


It's not my Aloe officinalis, it's Swedish explorer Peter Forsskål's (from the 1775 description) if it's anybody's. Smiling I think the name has been accepted for quite some time.

The flowers on officinalis may be red, yellow, or orange, but are usually orange or coral in cultivation. This is an area where incorrectly labeled internet photos are going to be quite confusing. The flower color on your plant is not inconsistent with officinalis. There are yellow and reddish-flowered examples of officinalis pictured in the Definitive Guide. Those flowers can also be distinguished from Aloe vera based on the shape (not ventricose, ie. no little belly) and the height of the raceme (about half as tall). Aloe officinalis should in theory not work like Aloe vera when it comes to skin ailments. Both should clump pretty aggressively in cultivation.

There are other aloes like what Thijs has mentioned and I don't know much about them. If you really want to identify your plant, try to take a flower picture, and measure the height of the raceme (the part of the inflorescence with flowers attached). Any ID without the flowers is going to be a guess, really. It doesn't stand out as one thing or another from the leaves alone.

The second plant looks like Aloe vera and that can be confirmed with a flower picture.

The third plant could be any of a number of spotted aloes. That's an area where identification tends to be difficult even with a flower, so I would not even guess a specific plant. Aloe maculata is a common, widespread, variable plant which can be identified (borrowing from the Definitive Guide here) most easily by its densely flowered, flat-topped capitate racemes and uniformly colored flowers. The racemes in the picture are not particularly flat topped, so I would think the plant is something else.

Aloe saponaria is an old name for the so-called soap aloe which was subsequently found not to have priority, as maculata was described 11 years earlier. A number of species (borrowing from the Definitive Guide again) are accepted as conspecific with maculata, including latifolia, leptophylla, maculosa, and umbellata. I would not begin to know the difference between these different plants but presumably they have similar shaped racemes. The CoL and our database have saponaria as a synonym for maculata.

For what it's worth, the flowers pictured are a good example of what flowers on spotted aloes generally look like, with a bulbous base and a slight constriction just above it.
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Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Oct 17, 2018 2:08 PM CST

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skopjecollection said:I dunno, baja said " definitive aloe guide says aloe vera look alike with lots of pups and red flowers is aloe officinialis" in a nutshell.


That is definitely not what the book or I said; see above and see the chat thread for all the details.

Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Oct 17, 2018 2:56 PM CST

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Donald, if you want to play a name game, we can work step by step through the identification key from the Definitive Guide. Step 1: are the leaves less than 2 inches wide at the base?
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
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needrain
Oct 17, 2018 3:09 PM CST
Thanks for all the input. It's really interesting to me.

Stefan's remark about plantation Aloe vera reminded me that there are fields of Aloe growing the Rio Grande Valley for the cosmetic trade among other things. I went to Google to see the appearance of those plants. My new one in trade this spring does indeed resemble those closely. I'll just have to pay attention if it blooms. It will amuse me if that one is Aloe vera, because the one commonly grown in households here is the one in the 1st photo and EVERYONE calls it aloevera as if it were one word. It's the one where they break off a leaf to use the interior as a salve. I've never heard of anyone ingesting it, but here's a Whole Food blurb touting the juice from the valley grown fields as something to drink Rolling my eyes. https://www.wholefoodsmarket.c... which doesn't sound very appealing to me. I'd try it I guess, but not homemade from my plant.

On the other hand, the lady where I got the second plant only referred to it as an Aloe. I ran into her this week and she was extremely impressed with what she got in trade and urged me to come by and see it. It apparently still has a few blooms left. I had to assure her it was really an Aloe and not something like an Agave Hilarious! . By that I'm guessing the one I got in trade is not so spectacular in bloom providing it has bloomed for her. She had several huge containers of the plant, but I didn't see any evidence of them having bloomed.

I won't be posting anything in the database because of the uncertainty. I've seen the generic Aloe there, but I don't use the generics often. Maybe once when I was trying to distinguish a plant and in doubt as to which family it might be. I'm really rotten at remembering to take photos, too.
Donald
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Oct 17, 2018 3:20 PM CST
Baja_Costero said:Donald, if you want to play a name game, we can work step by step through the identification key from the Definitive Guide. Step 1: are the leaves less than 2 inches wide at the base?


Which one? The middle one or the last one? I think both are probably 2" wide at the base, but I'd want to measure to be sure. The first one definitely is not, I think. Even when a single plant gets large I'm not sure they would be that wide. On the other hand, if it were to be grown and the pups continually removed as they appeared, it might make a much larger fan. I know when it gets overwintered the fans get larger. But it creates its own very crowded conditions to grow in. I know the lady where I got the 2nd one in trade said she usually removed them. I think my current plant has considerably more pups that hers did just since spring. Mine may not get as large as what I saw in hers as a result.
Donald
Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Oct 17, 2018 3:25 PM CST

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This is to identify the spotted aloe (the last one) with the flower picture.

Assuming the leaves are at least 2 inches wide at the base, the next question is this. Is the lower leaf surface spotted?
Name: Thijs van Soest
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mcvansoest
Oct 17, 2018 5:34 PM CST
I think Aloes: The definitive guide is a great book and I am sure most of the information in it is valid. However as with most books that get published that way, it has not been peer reviewed so it will represent the opinion of the authors, while in this case the authors are all experts in the field, it does not mean they are not prone to mistakes, misinterpretations, omissions, or oversights, or to new information becoming available after the fact.

I think an interesting tidbit which pertains to my reference to Aloe massawana and Aloe eumassawana with regards to A:TDG can be found here on the page of the Huntington ISI releases of 2018:

http://www.huntington.org/Bota...

This does not mean that I know the information/images regarding the flowers of Aloe officinalis in A:TDG to be wrong, but the original description of Aloe officinalis mentions in Latin: Flores splendide rubro-lutei which translates to Flowers bright red-yellow. That does not really correspond in my opinion to the coral salmon colored flowers I most often see associated with posted pictures of Aloe officinalis.

I certainly have not done an exhaustive search, but I find it striking that there are very few pictures of Aloe officinalis in flower that show up period. Some show the coral/salmon flowered plants (among others you will find images from the database and Dave's Garden showing those), but you also find the one linked to here:
http://www.plantdiversityofsau...

clearly bright yellow, with possibly some bright red colored ones in the background. Certainly very similar inflorescence and flower shape to the coral/salmon colored ones, but...

When you look for Aloe (eu)massawana images you get images similar to those on this link:
http://www.llifle.com/Encyclop...

To me the plants posted here in the database under Aloe officinalis look way more like those in the last link for Aloe massawana than anything I can find for Aloe officinalis on the net that is not a similar website to this one where the images are generally checked against what can be found on the internet.

It is clear that with Donald's description of the coral/salmon colored flowers that it is not Aloe vera.

I feel that based on available information it is just as easy to call the first plant Aloe eumassawana (following the blurb linked to on the Huntington page, but what is A. massawana in most people's minds) than it is to call it Aloe officinalis. As Stefan pointed out A:TDG is out of print and only obtainable for a king's ransom (and it wasn't really that cheap to begin with), which makes using it as 'the definitive guide' difficult for most people, and as with most of these reference volumes the information contained within them is by no means infallible (there are plenty of mistakes or things that have been superseded by newer more extensive information in the Agaves of North America by Gentry, which many of us still would consider the Agave bible).
It is what it is!
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Oct 17, 2018 5:59 PM CST
Baja_Costero said:This is to identify the spotted aloe (the last one) with the flower picture.

Assuming the leaves are at least 2 inches wide at the base, the next question is this. Is the lower leaf surface spotted?


Bear in mind that all the plants I currently have are not fully mature. But the first lower leaf I measured at the base next to the center measured at 2 1/4". It will get larger if it grows like the mother plant.

Spots on the surface of the leaf are spotted all the way to the core. If you were referring to the underside of the leaf, they are still spotted, but with a caveat. The older leaves have the spots, but they are fewer and appear to be fading on the underside. The younger leaves, which on these plants really constitutes most of them, are spotted the same as the core. The spots themselves are often shaped like a grain of rice and the same size and those kinds of spots are always directional lining up lengthwise with the leaf. They also frequently appear in pairs, triplets and occasionally quads all lined up in a little group. The effect is sort of a geometric pattern, rather than just random placement.

The spines along the edges are very strong and very sharp. I'm not sure how much of that wicked aspect is a result of my growing conditions. When I dug the plants in Austin, they were not as stiff as they became growing for me. Possibly because they were in ground and received more water and also had more shade. Or it may have simply been the time in early spring when I got them, but I haven't noticed they diminish here at any point. They are quite spiny.
Donald
Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Oct 17, 2018 6:33 PM CST

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The DG is pretty clear in its description of eumassawana where the plant is from and how it is different from massawana. I don't see the ISI text, while informative and helpful, as a great revelation or correction of the story. I will sum up what the DG says for those who do not have access to the book. I would like to make it clear in as many ways as possible what the difference is between the 2 plants, and how history has led us to confuse them. The story involves graves with aloes transported south by Arab traders in east Africa.

Given a choice between only those two plants, Donald's aloe has the flower color and relatively unbranched inflorescences of eumassawana. It would be predicted to have fine hairs on the racemes, as a point of confirmation.

== DG summary here ==

In his 1959 description of massawana, Reynolds focused on a plant growing on old Arab graves in Tanzania that was not actually from Tanzania, but brought there from Eritrea. He named the plant after the city Massawa in Eritrea. Unfortunately it was associated with other plants in Tanzania that were later found to differ in key aspects from the Eritrean ones. That's the reason why the plant he collected and passed on to Lavranos (which ended up at the ISI and online in various pictures) was misidentified, based on our current understanding of taxonomy (and without doubt remains that way in many online pictures). It's all in the book, no secrets there. Susan Carter, one of the authors of the DG book, was likely the lead author for their description of eumassawana.

The paper by Carter et al. in 1996 showed the difference between Tanzanian and Eritrean plants, said it was sufficient to describe a new species, and used the name eumassawana to describe the Eritrean plant as it grows in Eritrea. For the record, the key difference between these 2 plants is that the Tanzanian plants (massawana) have inflorescences with more branches than the Eritrean plants (eumassawana), 2-7 branches instead of 1-2 branches; eumassawana has very fine hairs on the racemes, while the other species does not; its racemes are more laxly flowered; its flowers are orange-red instead of dusty pink; its flowers are shorter; its leaves are wider. They are not necessarily different in whether they clump (eumassawana clumps a lot, massawana may or may not clump) so much as how much they clump.

The book does make an error in the date of Reynolds' description (1966 instead of 1959) but only on the page for the other plant. It is given correctly on the relevant page for massawana.

Interesting tidbit: There apparently are 2 different types of eumassawana, which can be distinguished in how they reproduce. There are Eritrean plants which appear to reproduce only by offsets, but there is also a population in Djibouti which fruits and sets viable seed.

==end summary==

Aloe massawana is light years away from officinalis, for example in how many branches form on its inflorescences. Scratch that one as a possibility. Aloe eumassawana is a lot closer (and is also closer geographically) but presumably could be distinguished based on those fine hairs.
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Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Oct 17, 2018 6:37 PM CST

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needrain said:Bear in mind that all the plants I currently have are not fully mature. But the first lower leaf I measured at the base next to the center measured at 2 1/4". It will get larger if it grows like the mother plant.

*snip!*

If you were referring to the underside of the leaf, they are still spotted


Okay, next step. The racemes are capitate, not cylindrical-acuminate. Check!

Next step: The inflorescence is branched but not rebranched. Check!

Next step: Are the leaves at least 4 inches wide at the middle? I'm all ears!
Name: Donald
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needrain
Oct 17, 2018 7:43 PM CST
Baja_Costero said:

Okay, next step. The racemes are capitate, not cylindrical-acuminate. Check!

Next step: The inflorescence is branched but not rebranched. Check!

Next step: Are the leaves at least 4 inches wide at the middle? I'm all ears!


Not sure without a mature plant. Here's a photo from last summer when the bloom spike was still in bud and I had dragged a bunch of collected pots many of which are the common black nursery pots - I think those are the 3 gal size? Common size used for shrubs and larger plants. Eyeballing the photo and searching my memory, I'm going to say they are probably 4" wide in the middle.
Thumb of 2018-10-18/needrain/f4c788
The only other thing of note about the plant that might be pertinent that comes to mind is that it set some seeds on that bloom spike. Not a lot of seeds, but a few. I collected them, but didn't end up planting them and tossed them recently. I have a tendency to get overrun with plants Shrug! . It seems I'd read that some Aloes are not self fertile, but this one must be to some degree. At the time the only other Aloe on the property was the one in the green container and it hasn't bloomed in several years. Pollen from elsewhere would have had to travel since I'm in the country and the nearest neighbors are prox a mile or more in any direction. I'd have to go scope out and see if they are growing any Aloes. It appeared to have set seeds again this year, but then the spike cratered. And, of course, there is the never to be resolved issue of whether the seeds were viable or not.
Donald
Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Oct 18, 2018 11:49 AM CST

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Interesting.

We're getting to the end of the key...

Next step: Leaves are lanceolate and long, not deltoid with shriveled tips. Check!

Next step: Choose the best option of these 2
(a) Leaves ovate-lanceolate, 10-12 inches long; flowers 1.4-1.8 inches
(b) Leaves lanceolate-attenuate, 8-20 inches long; flowers 1.2-1.5 inches

ovate = relatively wide, maybe 1.5x as long as wide
attenuate = relatively narrower, and gradually narrowing over the length of the leaf

I'm thinking that option (b) fits best because the leaves are so long, but see if you can confirm that.

If so, your plant is Aloe maculata, according to the key, regardless of the racemes being flat-topped or not.

See, it's not confusing at all. Rolling my eyes.
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Name: Donald
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needrain
Oct 18, 2018 12:29 PM CST
"ovate = relatively wide, maybe 1.5x as long as wide"

- No. This proportion does not work at all. The leaves are considerably longer than they are wide. That leaves (b) as the choice. And still leaves the problem of not having flat-topped racemes. Does following all the keys eliminate the possibility that it is a hybrid between A. maculata and something else? If it doesn't, then it's not enough to conclusively give it an i.d., is it? But does increase the likelihood of determining much of it's likely ancestry, correct? Or am I wrong on that? I know plants have variations, but is lacking flat-topped racemes a known variation for A. maculata?

And, yes, I can sure get confused. I'm no expert on the terms and have to rely on better informed authorities to reach conclusions. Sources are everything. I tip my hat to you. to you. It's a lot of work to sort these things out and become knowledgeable.
Donald
Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Oct 18, 2018 12:49 PM CST

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Lots of good questions without good answers, Donald. Smiling Such is the way of the spotted aloes. Maybe now it's more clear why I am hesitant to give a firm ID for most of them. Especially once you start to take hybrids into account, well, that's where I give up.

I have mostly avoided the maculate aloes as a group. The first one I put in the ground got a nasty case of the aloe mite. (Apparently that is a thing.) The second one has survived plague-free, but actually is becoming a bit of a nuisance as it offsets everywhere, and not in a tight clump. It's being a bad neighbor. The third one is in the park on top of a mound of dirt where it can offset as much as it wants. And actually that one worked out perfectly because our annual summer drought has kept it in check.

Just to confuse everyone further, there are other aloes with spots that fall outside the maculate group. Quite a few actually. In many cases, the spots are variable within the species, or disappear with age.

Here for example is jucunda



And here is one of my favorite spotted hybrids, which has way more spots on the underside of the leaves.


[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Oct 19, 2018 10:50 AM (+)]
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