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PlantFiles: Giant Tree Aloe
Aloe barberae

Family: Aloaceae
Genus: Aloe (AL-oh) (Info)
Species: barberae (BAR-ber-ay) (Info)

Synonym:Aloe bainesii

15 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Cactus and Succulents

over 40 ft. (12 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Winter

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From woody stem cuttings
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
By air layering
By tip layering

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 61 photos.
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9 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Gmanm On Apr 1, 2011, Gmanm from Garden Grove, CA wrote:

I live in Garden Grove CA. (near Disneyland) and we have a fairly large Aloe barberae which is around 20 years old, and it stands at around 30 feet tall. It doesn't get very cold here, but we do get occasional frost which has not affected the tree adversely.

While we usually do see flower stalks appear around November, last year (2010) they were more abundant than ever, growing from nearly every rosette. Yet, I can only remember seeing 1 seed pod grow from the tree a couple years ago, and despite the massive amount of flower stalks this past year, and tons of busy bees and hummingbirds, no seed pods grew from them at all.
However, we have a 3 foot tall cutting which is growing in a pot, and with only 1 flower stalk, there were 2 seedpods which formed.
Question 1: Is there a technique to getting a higher yield of seedpods?
Question 2: Any tips on planting the seeds?

I ended up with about 15 seeds, and I don't want to waste them!

Thanks everyone!

Positive boomboer On Sep 2, 2010, boomboer from Cape Town
South Africa wrote:

Aloe barberae is from the subtropical East coast of South Africa - an area that does not get frost. The plants also grow from within dense bush and only break the 'surface' of the surrounding foliage once they are a few years old. A. barberae is however, extensively planted throughout South Africa in gardens and does survive frosts in the drier inland areas - I suspect two aspects are important. The aloes are only planted in the open once they are larger or are protected while younger and the areas that do get frost in winter are summer rainfall areas with almost no rainfall in winter. These aloes would therefore not be turgid with water in the midst of a cold spell.

Positive baiissatva On Sep 7, 2008, baiissatva from Dunedin
New Zealand wrote:

I suggest heeding palmbob's caution about the ability of this aloe to tolerate a decent freeze- we are roughly zone 9 with very occasional minimums of -5C, with an average of about 5-10 light powder frosts a year, in a coastal Otago, NZ setting. At about 1M tall my barberae was seriously leaf-bitten by the worst frost we'd had in 12 years, but please note, the amputation of the damaged leaves followed by a year of regular watering has resulted in another metre or so of growth and replacement of most leaves. So dont lose hope if yours sustains damage! With a bit of TLC it will come back for you. While smallish, throw a frost cloth over it on those super-cripsy feeling nights and it will be fine. I find this aloe responds very well to regular summer watering, putting on a lot more growth and substance than if neglected. Once over the 2M mark, it should be safe from all but the worst freezes.

See more of our garden at The Blackthorn

Positive ehofacket On Aug 24, 2007, ehofacket from Lake Elsinore, CA wrote:

I attempted to grow one of these in Lake Elsinore California, but lost it to a freeze a few months after planting. The freeze was one of the most severe we have had in my area in decades. I may try again, but I should not count on this Aloe surviving in the long run where I am at. Mature trees of this plant can be found just south of me in the warmer local climate around Fallbrook and Vista.

Positive palmbob On Jan 17, 2007, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I seriously doubt the correctness of the zone listed above for this plant. We just experienced a freeze here in Southern California where it got down to around 27F (the lower end of zone 10a, higher of 9b) and all plants were pretty badlyl damaged- lots of melted leaves and broken limbs. This plant is NO WAY a zone 9a plant, and zone 9b is pushing it. As far as aloes go, this is one of the least cold tolerant of them all.

Also, this is one of the more commonly infected species with aloe mite... though sometimes it's hard to see the canker on these huge specimens... Unfortunately if the cankers are not treated/removed, this can act as a nidus and spread aloe mite through your collection... bummer

Positive RWhiz On Feb 9, 2006, RWhiz from Spring Valley, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant grows well in full sun in Southern California. It is easily rooted in potting soil with warmth.

Positive gagou On Feb 9, 2006, gagou from Rosedale
Canada wrote:


It has taken me a long time to figure out what I have as an aloe plant. I used to work in a greenhouse and when I left I took home a very interesting looking aloe plant. I planted this aloe when it was only inches tall and for the last 4 years I have had it indoors infront of a window. The aloe now is about 6.5 feet tall and 6.5 feet wide. This aloe is a very strong plant, it has been through many moves and many repottings to keep up with its growth. My plant does not have a bark looking trunk with the aloe growing at the top. It is all aloe, it has a very thick trunk with many large arms. I find if I ignore it, the better it does. I live in Vancouver, Canada so the climate is not at all hot but this aloe is amazing. A real show stopper when people come over.


Positive thistlesifter On Dec 16, 2005, thistlesifter from Vista, CA wrote:

a tree that perfectly characterizes what desert plants are all about.

This is being written in the last days of fall and 3 of these trees in our garden have been in full bloom for 2 weeks. These tree aloes are still on the south african calendar.

Positive BayAreaTropics On Sep 22, 2005, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

A small cutting i stuck in the ground has in five years become a four foot triple trunk "tree". Big boxed ones were planted at the Oakland Zoo. They were planted about the same time as mine so it's anybody's guess as to the eventual size in the Bay Area.
EDIT: Further experience has shown it to live through the freeze of 07 with plenty of stress but no damage at 30f. Also,growth strongly depends on summer water. I would not keep a young one again too dry but instead give much summer water for fast growth.Otherwise, it can crawl. VERY sensitive to fertilizer.Either don't, or plant away from those plants that do need it. I dont know why this plant has a reputation as has more rules than the vast majority of Aloes.

Neutral BotanyBob On May 29, 2001, BotanyBob from Thousand Oaks, CA wrote:

This tree aloe is the one of the largest tree aloes there are. Western Garden refers to this as a slow growing tree, but compared to the growth of all other Aloes, this one is fast. A 1' tall plant can grow to 15' feet in 4-5 years in warmer climates. The base of this tree can become quite massive, especially in full sun. 50 year old plants can have bulbous trunk bases 20' in diameter.

Though not a great plant for colder areas, this plant can take some degree of frost with minor leaf burn. In Southern California it does well in areas that routinely get down to 26F, as long as the summers are warm (80s -90s). The leaves are a deep green and the trunks start to divide about 5-10' tall, usually dividing again and again, making a large mass of twisted, exotic looking and very attractive leaves and branches.

It is a stately tree and should be given plenty of room. Though it does have blooms of a pale pink (look whitish from far away), this tree is grown for it's trunk and leaves. For those in the right climate that want a fast growing Aloe that will become a real conversation piece, this is the plant for you.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Peoria, Arizona
Fallbrook, California
Garden Grove, California
Glen Avon, California
Hayward, California
Los Angeles, California
Norwalk, California
Reseda, California
San Francisco, California
San Leandro, California
San Marino, California
Spring Valley, California
Tarzana, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Vista, California

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