The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Soap Aloe

Afrikaans name: Bontaalwyn

The flowers of the Soap Aloe

Photo © Steven Herbert

Aloe maculata

The Soap Aloe is also known as the Common Soap Aloe. It gets its name from the soapy lather that forms when its sap is mixed with water. Apparently, this aloe has several medicinal uses, and its leaves may be eaten.

It grows up to a metre in height and is often found solitary or sometimes in colonies. The short leaves are heavily spotted with white spots. The spots are on the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves but there are far more on the upper surface.

The inflorescences are born on long stalks and may be orange, yellow or red in colour. The inflorescence has a flat top with the individual flowers hanging downward. The Soap Aloe flowers at different times of the year and this is influenced by its location. The flowers of the Soap Aloe attract a variety of sunbirds, and other birds, who drink the nectar.

They have a wide distribution in South Africa. They occur in a band along the coast from Cape Town to KwaZulu-Natal and then the Free State. They have a wide tolerance of soils and other conditions. They can be found in grassland and amongst rocky outcrops.

The leaves of the Soap Aloe

Photo © Steven Herbert

References and further reading

What Aloe is That? - Author: Eric Judd - Published: 1967 - Page: 5

Succulents of South Africa - Author: E. Van Jaarsveld, B. Van Wyk and G. Smith - Published: 2000 - Page: 69

The Flora of the Natal Drakensberg - Author: Donald Killick - Published: 1990 - Page: 100

Succulent Flora of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Doreen Court - Published: 2010 - Page: 268

Guide to the Aloes of South Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: Ben-Erik van Wyk and Gideon F. Smith - Published: 2014 - Page: 250

Succulent Flora of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Doreen Court - Published: 2010 - Page: 241

Guide to Succulents of Southern Africa - Author: Gideon Smith & Neil Crouch - Published: 2009 - Page: 37

Field Guide to Wild Flowers of South Africa - Author: John Manning - Published: 2009 - Page: 80

Guide to Succulents of Southern Africa - Author: Gideon Smith & Neil Crouch - Published: 2009 - Page: 36

Field guide to Succulents of Southern Africa - Author: Gideon Smith & Neil Crouch - Published: 2017 - Page: 142

Aloes in Southern Africa - Author: Braam van Wyk, Gideon F. Smith - Published: 2008 - Page: 100

A Photographic Guide to Wild Flowers of South Africa - Author: Braam van Wyk - Published: 2000 - Page: 101

A Field Guide to Wild Flowers in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region - Author: Elsa Pooley - Published: 2005 - Page: 34


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