Family : Xanthorrhoeaceae
Subfamily: Asphodeloideae
Genus : Aloe
Species : Aloe somaliensis

THE SOMALI ALOE - Aloe somaliensis

The Somali aloe - Aloe somaliensis is arguably one of the most ornamental of all Aloe species. As inferred by both its scientific and common name it is a native to northern Somalia, Djibouti and may cross the border into Ethiopia. It has a widespread habitat where it is usually found at altitudes of between 1400-1700 meters on bushland found on rocky slopes and limestone.


First described by William Watson in 1899, Aloe somaliensis has sadly already made it on to the IUCN 'Red List of Threatened Species' as a vulnerable species. This is due to it being removed from the wild to meet the demand of plant collectors, and through overgrazing and trampling from herding animals. Luckily Aloe somaliensis is widely cultivated in botanic gardens although surprisingly there are no seeds at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew.

Aloe somaliensis is a stemless or short stem-forming evergreen succulent that is clump forming in habit. It has glossy pale green to brownish, mottled leaves. The leaves are smooth with 4mm long, reddish brown teeth on margins are 4 millimetres long and 8-10 mm apart.

The blooms are formed on branching stems approximately 60-80cm tall. The downward-facing tubular flowers are deeply grooved and pinkish scarlet in colour.

Aloe somaliensis will grow quite happily outside in any Mediterranean climate so long as it is planted in a sunny position, but shaded during the hottest part of the day. Poor, free draining soils are best, but new plants will need to be periodically watered during its first year until they becomes established.

Pot grown plants kept under protection will require a good quality, free draining compost such as John Innes 'No1' with the addition of a handful of horticultural grit or sand to improve the drainage further.

Aloe somaliensis received the Award of Garden merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1994.

For related article click onto the following links:

AGAVE PARRASANA - The Cabbage Head Agave   Agave parryi var. patonii 'Variegata'   AGAVE PARRYI var. truncata   Agave x 'Royal Spine'   Aloe vera   THE BLUE AGAVE - Agave tequilana    THE HARDY ALOE - Aloe striatula   THE ORCHID CACTUS - Disocactus ackermannii


About the Author

The 'Seeds of Eaden' website is the brainchild of professional horticulturist and multi-award winning gardener Simon Eade. After six years of study; two years 'Retail Horticulture' at Hadlow College, then four years Commercial Horticulture at Greenwich University, Simon has worked in a number of 'fields' within the industry for over twenty years. Most notably, managing the prestigious Alexandra Palace garden centre in London. Since then he has become an internationally published writer, and author of the popular 'Garden of Eaden' blog.

Simon Eade is also a recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society's Banksian medal

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