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Scientific Name
Aloe ferox Mill.
Higher Classification
Aloe candelabrum A.Berger, Aloe ferox Mill. var. galpinii (Baker) Reynolds, Aloe ferox Mill. var. incurva Baker, Aloe galpinii Baker, Aloe perfoliata L. var. epsilon L., Aloe perfoliata L. var. gamma L., Aloe perfoliata L. var. theta (Mill.) Aiton, Aloe perfoliata L. var. zeta Willd., Aloe perfoliata Thunb., Aloe pseudo-ferox Salm-Dyck, Aloe subferox Spreng., Aloe supralaevis Haw., Aloe supralaevis Haw. var. erythrocarpa A.Berger, Pachidendron ferox (Mill.) Haw., Pachidendron pseudo-ferox (Salm-Dyck) Haw., Pachidendron supralaeve (Haw.) Haw.
Common Names
Aalwyn (a), Bergaalwee (a), Bergaalwyn (a), Bitter Aloe (e), Bitteraalwyn (a), Cultivated Aloe (e), Hlaba (ss), Ikhala (x), Kanniedood (a), Kraalalwee (a), Kraalalwyn (a), Lekhala La Quthing (ss), Mak-aalwyn (a), Makalwee (a), Opregte Aalwyn (a), Regte Aalwee (a), Regte Aalwyn (a), Swellendam-aalwyn (a), Swellendamsaalwee (a), Tap Aloe (e), Tapaalwyn (a), Tap-aalwyn (a), Tapalwee (a), Tapalwyn (a), Uganda Aloes (e), Umhlaba (z), Umhlaba (x)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
D. Raimondo, J.H. Vlok, B.E. van Wyk, E.J. van Jaarsveld & J.E. Victor
Aloe ferox is widespread and common throughout its range. The leaves of this commercially important medicinal plant is extensively harvested and products derived from harvested material are exported. Large volumes have been exported since the 1980s, with an increase in trade over the past 15 years. Despite heavy exploitation in some areas this species is still extremely common and not suspected to be in any danger of extinction.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal
Swellendam to southern KwaZulu-Natal, and extending inland as far as Lesotho and the southern Free State.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Albany Thicket, Fynbos, Grassland, Indian Ocean Coastal Belt
Highly variable, from mountain slopes and rocky outcrops to flat, open areas. Capable of thriving in the arid climate of the western part of the range as well as relatively wet conditions in the eastern part of the range.
A. ferox is a medicinal plant of high commercial importance. In some areas overexploitation and destructive harvesting of leaves have caused localized extinctions. However, most commercial produce is harvested from cultivated individuals, and this species is extremely common (Van Wyk and Smith 1996). Heavy harvesting occurs throughout communal areas of the Eastern Cape including in the Peddie, Idutywa, Butterworth and Qunu areas as well as in some areas of the former Transkei region. Overharvesting of leaves can lead plants to be killed by fire as the plants lose the dry skirt of leaves around the stem that act as a fire defence. There has been past loss of habitat to crop cultivation and urban development, especially in the western parts of its range. Subpopulations within some poorly managed game reserves are declining as a result of overgrazing by Eland and other large game.

An extremely common and abundant species, occurring as large stands in suitable habitat. Aloe ferox has a weed-like ecology and is a pioneer species in disturbed vegetation, and therefore land degradation in many areas is suspected to have led to an increase in the population size over the past 30 years.

Population trend
Protected in many reserves across its range. Formal legislation is protecting and controlling the use of this species in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State (Van Wyk and Smith 1996). Monitoring and regulation is required to ensure the sustainable utilization in regions where this species is heavily harvested in order to support local livelihoods of rural South Africans.
Data to support this assessment was derived from responses by a number of South Africa's most renowned field botanists to a query on the sustainability of the trade in wild derived products of A. ferox circulated by South Africa's CITES scientific authority in 2012.
Raimondo, D., Vlok, J.H., van Wyk, B.E., van Jaarsveld, E.J. & Victor, J.E. 2012. Aloe ferox Mill. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. Accessed on 2020/04/06

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Distribution map

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