For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Soap Aloe (Aloe maculate)

Family Asphodelaceae
Distribution and habitat

This species has a wide distribution from the Cape Peninsula through the Western and Eastern Cape Province, into the eastern Free State and Lesotho, through KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga to the Inyanga District in Zimbabwe. Plants usually prefer the milder coastal climates but are also found as a component of the higher altitude Drakensberg flora. They occur in a variety of habitats, ranging from rocky outcrops to thicket and grasslands.

Description

Aloe maculata is very variable but its distinctly flat-topped inflorescences and usually uniformly coloured flowers distinguish it from most other spotted aloes occurring in the same area. The broad, triangular leaves vary considerably in length and shape, but are mostly recurved towards the dried, twisted tips. The inflorescence (a raceme) can have up to six branches. The stalks of the open flowers are longer than those of the buds. Flower colour ranges from yellow and red to orange. Flowering time is variable, and various forms may flower in summer (January), winter (June) or spring (August, September).

Ecology

The bright red and yellow to orange flowers of aloes are a rich source of nectar and attract sunbirds. In the hilly areas of the Free State National Botanical Garden the nectar-rich aloes that flower in winter and spring (September) are visited by brilliant sunbirds. Aloes do not only provide nectar, but also lend striking colour to a tired-looking winter garden.

Uses and cultural aspects
The sap from the leaves is said to be used by people of various cultures as a substitute for soap.