ALOE SPECIES & HYBRIDS
My love for Aloe started when a good friend of mine brought me an offset from his grandmother’s Aloe maculata in 2009. I was living in a historic mansion (actually a very big house) in Leland, Mississippi. There was no better Aloe for me to start out with.
I am not going to go into a lot of technical taxonomic detail about the Aloe genus. You can go to several other websites to find that information if you are interested. My main interest is to talk about the plants I have grown, their accurate scientific names, who named them and when, growing information, their photos as they grow and my experience with them.
Since I started blogging in 2009 with my first blog (The Mystical Mansion and Garden, the Aloe genus has been in five different families. Aloaceae, Asparagaceae, Asphodelaceae, Liliaceae, and Xanthorrhoeaceae. Mind you, it was placed in and out of each one when someone would come up with some sort of evidence.
Listed in alphabetical order, not in the order when Aloe was part of the family:
Aloaceae Batsch is a former scientific family name for genera in the Aloe family. It was named and described by August Johann Georg Karl Batsch in Tabula Affinitatum Regni Vegetabilis in 1802. I am somewhat confused… This family was named in 1802 and the Aloe and several other genera were placed in it. Many websites, including Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) and The SucculentGuide, still lists the Aloe as being a member of this family. They are BOTH usually very up to date.
Asparagaceae Juss. is still an accepted family name, but the Aloe genus is no longer there… It was named and first described by Antione Laurent de Jussieu in Genera Plantarum in 1789. The 2010 version of The Plant List said that Aloe was in this family then.
Asphodelaceae Juss. is the correct and accepted scientific family name which the Aloe genus is in NOW. It was named and described by Antione Laurent de Jussieu in Genera Plantarum in 1789. At first, I thought this was a new family until I checked. I was surprised to read it was created in 1789!!!
Liliaceae Juss. is an accepted family name and the Aloe genus was a member of this family until 2009. It was named and first described by Antione Laurent de Jussieu in Genera Plantarum in 1789. Some websites still use this family for the Aloe genus.
Xanthorrhoeaceae Dumort. was a former family name where the Aloe genus was placed. It was first named and described by Barthélemy Charles Joseph Dumortier in Analyse des Familles de Plantes in 1829. The 2013 version of The Plant List says the Aloe was in this family at that time. Many websites and lists still say that the Aloe is in this family.
Isn’t it interesting how the same man named three of the families that Aloe has been placed in all in the same publication in the same year?
It would be interesting to know when the Aloe genus was placed in each family and what family Carl von Linnaeus placed it in when he named the Aloe genus in 1753. I have yet to find that answer. None of the above families are that old. I had thought the Aloe was in the Liliaceae family until 2009 when it was reclassified by the Phylogeny Group (the APG III system) and placed it in the Xanthorrhoeaceae family. But that would be weird because the 2010 version of The Plant List included it in the Asparagaceae Family. But then the 2013 version said it was in the Xanthorrhoeaceae family. THEN the APG IV system placed the Aloe in the Asphodelaceae (subfamily Asphodeloidae) in 2016. Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) and the SucculentGuide both say Aloe is currently in the Aloaceae family.
An article in Phytotaxa in 2013 talks about the reclassification of the Aloe genus… It is VERY complex but very informative. The title of the article is (I hope you are sitting down), “A revised generic classification for Aloe (Xanthorrhoeaceae subfam. Asphodelaceae)“.
Due to Molecular phylogenetic studies, it has been found that Aloe is not monophyletic and should be divided into more defined genera. The Aloe has since been divided into six different genera including Aloe, Aloiampelos, Aloidendron, Aristaloe, Gonialoe, and Kumara. I think they are just getting started and more name changes should be expected.
There are 576 accepted species of Aloe listed in Plants of the World Online (which includes a few hybrids). All have distinguishing characteristics which separates them from other species. There are a number of features they have in common which makes them members of the Aloe genus. The 2013 version of The Plant List named 558 accepted species, 23 accepted infraspecific names, a total of 560 synonyms and 105 that were still unresolved. The Llifle website lists 615 of which 397 are accepted names and 218 that have been placed in other genera. Their list of accepted names includes synonyms and accepted cultivars. I don’t understand how they can include the synonyms and accepted names together and call them all accepted names… Otherwise, the Llifle website is very informative and includes many GREAT photos. I have sent them emails from time to time, even offered photos, and never heard from them.
All Aloe species have similar flowers that attract hummingbirds. All have similar seed pods (which I have only seen a few).
Aloes have a good, thick root system and spread by offsets. Some are quite prolific while others are slow to spread.
All have similar succulent leaves that form some sort of a rosette pattern. All leaves produce a sap that have healing properties and some may be poison. Most species have leaves with toothed edges, some rough, bumpy, spiny, and some smooth on one or both sides.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION:
Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms)
Plants of the World Online