Aloe africana is a solitary plant, bearing an erect stem up to 2 m high (exceptionally up to 4 m), with a skirt of dry leaves. Its leaves, crowded in a dense, apical rosette, are gracefully spreading to recurved, firm linear-lanceolate, up to 0.65 m long, with a grey-green surface, and its margins armed with small, reddish teeth. Flowers are borne on an erect, unbranched to branched raceme. Its beautiful tubular flowers are up to 55 mm long and curved, the latter feature distinguishing it immediately from close relatives. Its winged seeds are formed in dehiscing capsules and dispersed by wind. Flowering time is from winter to early spring (July to September in South Africa).
Aloe africana is restricted to the southeastern part of South Africa, in the Eastern Cape, and is particularly common near Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and the lower Gamtoos River. It is mainly confined to hills and flats, growing in thicket and renosterveld vegetation. It often grows in association with Aloe ferox, A. pluridens and A. speciosa, and hybrids are not uncommon. Soil is sandy and well drained. The climate is moderate, without frost, and hot and humid during summers. Rainfall occurs throughout the year, from 600 to 700 mm per annum.
Aloe africana, like most other aloes has tubular flowers rich in nectar and pollinated by sunbirds.