Guinea Fowl Aloe, Lace Aloe, Torch Plant
air-ISST-AL-oh (?) a-ris-TAH-tuh
ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY AWARD OF GARDEN MERIT
Synonyms of Aristaloe aristata (6) (Updated on 11-17-22 from Plants of the World Online): Aloe aristata Haw. (1825), Aloe aristata var. leiophylla Baker (1880), Aloe aristata var. parvifolia Baker (1896), Aloe ellenbergeri Guillaumin (1934), Aloe longiaristata Schult. & Schult.f. (1829), Tulista aristata (Haw.) G.D.Rowley (2013)
Aristaloe aristata (Haw.) Boatwr. & J.C.Manning is now the accepted scientific name for this plant. It was named and described as such by James S. Boatwright and John Charles Manning in Systematic Botany in 2014.
This plant was previously named Aloe aristata Haw. as named and described by Adrian Hardy Haworth in Philosophical Magazine and Journal in 1825.
As of 11-17-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online list only one species in the Aristaloe genus. It is a member of the plant family Asphodelaceae with 41 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
This plant is a native of Cape Provinces, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, and Lesotho in southern Africa.
IN A GENUS OF ITS OWN…
Although this was originally thought to be a species of Aloe, phylogenetic studies show the Aloe genus is polyphyletic and this unusual species IS NOT an Aloe. It is closely related to the Astrolabes and to the four Robustipedunculares species of Haworthia. Because its genetics are unique, this species is in a new genus of its own.
I bought this Aristaloe aristata from Wal-Mart on 3-19-18. It measures 2 3/4” tall x 4 1/2” wide and is in a 4” diameter x 3” tall pot. This plant was basically unlabeled but has a tag that said Aloe and that it is from Rocket Farms in Half Moon Bay, California.
To make my search easier, I sent photos of this plant, and four of the others I bought to Daiv Freeman of the SucculentGuide and also posted them on a couple of Facebook Groups. Daiv is normally very helpful, but he said this plant was a Gasteria… By the time I heard from him, one of the members of Succulent Infatuation on Facebook already told me it was an Aloe aristata. Another member said Aristaloe and another said Lace Aloe and another Torch Plant. They were all right. 🙂 One other common name is Guinea Fowl Aloe.
I first did a search on Aloe aristata and confirmed it was the correct name and its common name is Lace Aloe or Torch Plant. THEN, as I was writing this page, I went to Plants of the World Online and they said Aloe aristata was a synonym of Aristaloe aristata. GEEZ! I thought once again, “Here we go again!” Plants of the World Online is saying something different than everyone else. This time, however, there is polygenetic testing to back them up… SO, this plant is definitely Aristaloe aristata.
As you can see in the above photo, it is starting a family of its own with three offsets. It is a clumper.
Origin: South Africa
Zones: USDA Zones 7b-11 (5 to 40° F)*
Light: Sun to part shade
Soil: Fast-draining. I used 2 parts Miracle Grow Potting Soil with 1 part additional perlite and 1 part chicken grit for many years. I started using 50% Miracle Grow Potting Soil and 50% pumice in 2018 with favorable results.
Water: Average water during the growing period, barely in winter.
*Dave’s Garden says it is cold tolerant down to 7b, but I wouldn’t trust that. I bring my plants inside as soon as an “F” is in the forecast.
I moved the plants back outside for the summer on April 29 (2018) and they were all glad to be out in the fresh air. I put it in a larger pot, too.
This plant has the same requirements as Aloe, Gasteria, etc., etc., and so on. Basically, most members of the Asphodelaceae family. They like well-draining soil, potting soil amended with additional grit and perlite or pumice works well. Some collectors say pumice is better than perlite. There are a lot of potting soil recipes online for cactus and succulents, so you just have to experiment. A peat-based mix dries out and becomes hard to absorb water and may become hard over the winter. I am still experimenting…
Although Aloe species do well in full sun, their leaves will burn so I usually keep mine in at least light shade. Some of them do just as good in part shade. You just have to experiment with the different species and see where they perform the best. Information online says this plant’s leaves are light green in shade and dark green in more light.
The leaves of this plant are slightly incurved with “tufted” tips. It is loaded with white spots that are very rough and feel like sandpaper and the margins have very small white spines.
This plant is supposed to produce orange flowers on 20″ stems during the winter. We shall see…
I moved most of my potted plants to the front porch on July 4 because of a Japanese Beetle invasion. They were eating the leaves of the Chinese Elms the plant tables were under which completely changed the environment. The Aristaloe aristata continues to do well and its offsets have really grown.
I could probably remove the offsets but I will wait. Some Aloe does best in colonies so I don’t want to rock the boat.
As cooler temperatures were on the way I had to move the potted plants inside on October 10.
The Aristaloe aristata made it through the winter with no problems. When temperatures started warming enough I moved the potted plants back outside. It seems to have grown quite a lot over the winter…
The Aristaloe aristata is doing very well. It still hasn’t grown any new offsets but I am hopeful. The offsets are getting larger and I may need to put it in a larger pot.
I had to move the potted plants inside on October 11 because an “F” was in the forecast. The Aristaloe aristata made it through the summer as carefree and happy as always. I always measure the cactus and succulents when I move them inside, and this plant measured 4 1/2″ tall x 8 1/4″ wide. It grew quite a lot and I think a larger pot is definitely in order.
I decided to put the Aristaloe aristata in a larger pot on November 13. I think fall is a good time to repot cactus and succulents so their soil stays nice and loose for the winter.
Well, I kind of screwed up when I repotted the Aristaloe in November 2019. I put it in too deep of a pot and it didn’t like it and started going downhill. So, I put the larger plant in a shallower pot in the spring and removed the offsets and put them in their own pots. They didn’t like that either.
I had been in correspondence with Nico Britsch of Succulent Market and he said he would send plants and would like for me to mention his website on a post. I agreed. I decided on five plants, one of which was a new Aristaloe aristata because I wasn’t sure the other one would survive. Of course, he calls them Aloe aristata on his website but said he would change the name at some point. Nico is a third-generation cactus and succulent farmer in California and decided to start his own business by offering some of his family’s plants online. He ships good-sized plants in 4″ pots. I wrote a post about the plants I received from Succulent Market which you can view HERE.
Still doing well on October 6, the plant Nico sent is 3 1/2″ tall x 4 1/2″ wide. It is hard to find plants that size and in this good a condition from an online seller.
The first Aristaloe aristata seems to be recovering. I took the above photo on October 15 when I brought the plants inside for the winter. Normally I photograph all the cactus and succulents and measure them as I bring them inside, but this plant has shrunk since a lot of its older leaves had died… It is growing new leaves so that is a good sign. Its offsets are still not doing so well… Just remember not to put this species in too deep of a pot when repotting… I know sometimes it is difficult to find “the just right” pot which is what happened. Too deep of a pot means moist soil in the bottom of the pot can rot the lower roots which is apparently what happened toward the end of winter. I hadn’t watered the plants hardly at all during the winter, and when I did I just gave them a little. Well, toward the end when it was about time to put the plants outside I gave some of them a good soaking. I shouldn’t have done that with this one since it was in a new and larger pot with no roots at the bottom. Live and learn, huh?
Unfortunately, the Aristata aloe from Succulent Market became infested with mealy bugs during the winter then the old plant also got them. After repeated spraying, washing, and repotting (it is quite a process). One eventually died, and the other was looking so bad and I couldn’t not get rid of the bugs. I eventually just threw it out the back door. I also lost another plant from Succulent Market that had the bugs first. I had never had an issue with mealy bugs before until the winter of 2020-2021. A few other plants got them but I managed to keep them under control. I am not saying the mealy bugs came from Succulent Market because three of the plants he sent never had a problem.
In all, Aristaloe aristata is a great plant and I have enjoyed growing it. I hope to find another plant locally at some point.
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. Just keep in mind, most information online says this plant is an Aloe aristata because they haven’t updated and some never will…