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Aloe polyphylla

I was traveling in South Africa when I saw it in a botanical garden. “It’s a very old plant” my guide advised. It was three feet across and the succulent leaves formed a perfect spiral.

“And the offsets,” I asked, “what do they look like?” The small plants he showed me were still in a rooting tray.

“Some,” he said, “will spiral clockwise. Some will spiral counter-clockwise.” I had to use my imagination. “You must be patient,” he said.

I sketched a plant that was beginning it’s second year. It bore little resemblance to the parent.

He shook his head. “Poaching is a problem. We are losing these plants in the wild.”




A beautiful addition to any garden, it’s native to Lesotho, a tiny mountainous kingdom entirely surrounded by the country of South Africa. The tightness of the twist will very by plant due to genetics and age.