Aloe arborescens (Torch Aloe, Etc.)

Aloe arborescens (Torch Aloe, ETC.) after I brought it home on 11-10-20, #757-1.

Shrub Aloe, Kidachi Aloe, Krans Aloe, Krantz Aloe, Mountain Bush Aloe, Sword Aloe, Barbados Aloe, Medicinal Aloe, Octopus, Candelabra Aloe, Candelabra Plan, Octopus Plant, Torch Plant, Woody Aloe, Tree Aloe

Aloe arborescens

AL-oh  ar-bo-RES-senz

Synonyms of Aloe arborescens (3) (Updated on 11-16-22 from Plants of the World Online: Aloe perfoliata var. arborescens (Mill.) Aiton (1789), Aloe perfoliata var. natalensis (J.M.Wood & M.S. Evans) A.Berger (1908),  Catevala arborescens (Mill.) Medik. (1786)
Synonyms of Aloe arborescens subsp. arborescens (12) (updates on 11-16-22 from POWO): Aloe arborea Medik. (1784), Aloe arborescens var. frutescens (Salm-Dyck) Link (1821), Aloe arborescens var. milleri A.Berger (1908), Aloe arborescens var. natalensis (J.M.Wood & M.S.Evans) A.Berger (1908), Aloe arborescens var. pachystyrsa A.Berger (1908), Aloe arborescens var. viridifolia A.Berger (1908). Aloe frutescens Salm-Dyck (1817), Aloe fruticosa Lam. (1783), Aloe natalensis J.M.Wood & M.S.Evans (1901), Aloe perfoliatum Meyen (1835), Aloe sigmoidea Baker (1880), Aloe wilmsii Hausen (1901)

Aloe arborescens Mill. is the accepted scientific name of this species Aloe. It was named and described as such by Philip Miller in the 8th edition of Gardener’s Dictionary in 1768.

Accepted subspecies of Aloe arborescens: *Aloe arborescens subsp. arborescens (autonym)Aloe arborescens subsp. mzimnyati van Jaarsv. & A.E.van Wyk.

*When an infraspecific taxon is named, an autonym (“type-specimen”) is automatically generated whose description is closest to the (original) species. All have their own list of synonyms… There are no synonyms listed for Aloe arborescens subsp. mzimnyati.

The genus, Aloe L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. 

As of 11-16-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 587 species in the Aloe genus. Aloe is a member of the Asphodelaceae Family with 41 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.


Aloe arborescens (Torch Aloe) at 6 3/4″ tall x 6 1/2″ wide on 11-11-20, #758-1.

I brought this plant home from Lowe’s on November 10, 2020. There are two plants in the 11 oz. pot. The tallest in the pot measured 6 3/4” tall and the two together were 6 1/2” wide. There was no label stating what species it was so I uploaded photos on the Facebook group called Succulent Infatuation. It wasn’t long before I got an answer. I have several Aloe species and cultivars in my collection but I had not seen an Aloe arborescens locally before. I have seen it online but didn’t pay enough attention to know what it was when I saw it at Lowe’s. All I knew was that it was an Aloe and I didn’t have one like it. So, I brought one of several to choose from home. It was dark outside when I arrived back home, so I took a couple of photos in the kitchen but had to wait until the next day to take more outside in better light.

Aloe arborescens (Torch Aloe, Etc.) on 11-11-20.

Apparently, Aloe arborescens is a tree or shrub-like cactus that can grow to around 10′ tall. They are highly prized for their non-branching inflorescence with red flowers that attract birds, bees, and butterflies. Information online says they flower in late fall-early winter. That will be interesting to see since I have to keep this plant in a pot in my location in Missouri. I have several miniature Aloe that flower during the fall and winter, but my larger Aloe maculata flower during the summer. So, we shall see if the Aloe arborescens will actually flower in a pot inside or not.

Aloe arborescens (Torch Aloe, ETC.) from the top on 11-11-20., #758-3.

Without a tag or label with the plant, I didn’t realize this species has the potential to get so large. That is something that is good to know before you buy a plant.

Information online says Aloe arborescens has the third-largest distribution of all Aloe and grows in a wide variety of habitats in the wild.


Aloe arborescens (Torch Aloe) at 12″ tall on 8-18-21, #827-4.

The Aloe arborescens has done great over the summer on the back porch. I have them in their own pots now. They both have an offset.

Sorry to say, the Aloe arborescens didn’t make it over the winter in the house. You never know…

FAMILY: Asphodelaceae
ORIGIN: South Africa
ZONES: USDA Zones 9b-11 (25-40° F)
SIZE: 3 to 12’
*LIGHT: Full sun to part shade. Best in filtered light as full sun will redden or burn its leaves. I normally keep my Aloe in light to part shade on the front porch.
*SOIL: Aloes have a good root system so can be grown in ordinary, well-draining potting soil. This species grows in a variety of soils in its native habitat. I have to grow this plant in a pot, but should be grown in the ground in warmer climates. I am currently using 50% Miracle Grow Potting Soil and pumice.
*WATER: Water thoroughly when soil is dry and allow to dry out between watering. Aloe like regular watering during the summer months but should be grown fairly dry during the winter.
FLOWERS: Produces red flowers, some cultivars have yellow flowers, on an unbranched inflorescence 2’ above the leaves. Attracts birds, bees, and butterflies. Flowers late fall through early winter.

*During the summer, I keep most of my cactus on the back deck where they receive full sun. During the winter most cactus aren’t picky about the light because they are basically dormant. For several winters, mine were in front of the east-facing sliding door in the dining room so they didn’t get much light but they did great. I built a new shelf for the bedroom so now they are in front of a west-facing window. Most of the succulents are on a shelf in a south-facing window in a cool bedroom but a few are in my bedroom.

**When it comes to potting soil, finding the “sweet spot” is not exactly that easy when materials are limited. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts (and experts) do not recommend using peat-based commercial mixes but what choice is there for most of us. They say to use a loam-based mix… Hmmm… Our soil is loam, so do I just use dirt? Well, no because “dirt” is heavy and you need a “light” material. There is A LOT of cactus and succulent recipes online and some get pretty elaborate. Many say to use sand as an ingredient, but if you do that, it needs to be very coarse, like builders sand, because “ordinary” sand, like for sandboxes, is too fine and it clogs up the air space between the coarser ingredients. For MANY years I used 2 parts Miracle Grow or Schultz Potting amended with an additional 1 part of perlite and 1 part chicken grit. Schultz doesn’t seem to have as many large pieces of bark. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts recommended using pumice instead of perlite and grit so I checked it out… The “guy” at General Pumice (online) recommended using a 50/50 mix of potting soil and pumice. General Pumice has 3 different sizes to choose from depending on the size of the pot. SO, in 2018 I bought a bag of 1/8″ and mixed it 50/50 with Miracle Grow Potting Soil. I liked it pretty well. Then in 2020, since most of the cactus were in larger pots, I ordered the 1/4″ size. Pumice has a lot of benefits over perlite and has nutrients that are added to the soil when watering. Pumice is also heavier so it stays mixed in the soil instead of “floating” to the top. Still, there is the issue of the mix getting very hard once you stop watering the plants during the winter when you stop watering. I think this is because of the peat in the potting soil… SO, instead of re-potting the cactus and succulents in the spring, I started doing it during the fall and winter so their soil would be loose. Since you don’t water as frequently during the winter if at all, the timed-release fertilizer does not activate. I have not tried coir, but I am looking into it… 

***I water my cactus and succulents on a regular basis during the summer but barely ever in the winter (maybe a little in January) until close to time to take them back outside. 

You can read my Cactus Talk & Update and Cactus & Succulent Tips to get my opinion about growing cactus and succulents.

When you bring your new plants home from the store, you need to check their roots and the soil to see if they are wet. If so, you may want to re-pot it right away. It is advisable to re-pot them in a better potting soil more suitable for cactus and succulents.

There is quite a lot online about this species which makes for interesting reading. I will continue to add more photos and information as time goes by. This should be an interesting species to grow and I always like HUGE and interesting plants. SO, we will see how it goes…

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.


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