Scientific Name
Aloe ferox Mill.
Higher Classification
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 & H. Mtshali
Despite heavy exploitation of this widespread species in some areas it is still extremely common, and not suspected to be in danger of extinction.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, Free State, Western Cape
Aloe ferox is widespread across the Eastern Cape Province, extending to the southern Free State and Lesotho, and the Little Karoo region of the Western Cape.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Albany Thicket, Fynbos, Grassland, Nama Karoo, Savanna, Succulent Karoo
It occurs in a variety of habitats, from mountain slopes and rocky outcrops to flat, open areas in fynbos, grassland, karroid shrubland and thicket.
A. ferox is a medicinal plant of high commercial importance. The leaves are 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. 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 in the wild (Van Wyk and Smith 1996, 2003). 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.

Aloe ferox is an extremely common species, occurring as large subpopulations in suitable habitat. It 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 in parts of its range over the past 30 years, while in other areas localized declines have been observed due to overharvesting, habitat loss and grazing.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Aloe ferox Mill.Least Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)

Boon, R. 2010. Pooley's Trees of eastern South Africa. Flora and Fauna Publications Trust, Durban.

Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J.C. 2000. Cape Plants: A conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.

Pooley, E. 2003. Mountain flowers: a field guide to the flora of the Drakensberg and Lesotho. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.

Raimondo, D., von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. and Manyama, P.A. 2009. Red List of South African Plants. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Smith, G.F., Klopper, R.R., Crouch, N.R. and Figueiredo, E. 2016. Reinstatement of Aloe candelabrum A.Berger (Asphodalaceae: Alooideae), a tree-like aloe of KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. Bradleya 34:59-69.

Van Wyk, B.-E. and Smith, G. 1996. Guide to the aloes of South Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria.

Van Wyk, B.-E. and Smith, G. 2003. Guide to aloes of South Africa. (2nd ed.). Briza Publications, Pretoria.

Vlok, J. and Schutte-Vlok, A.L. 2010. Plants of the Klein Karoo. Umdaus Press, Hatfield.

Raimondo, D., Vlok, J.H., van Wyk, B.E., van Jaarsveld, E.J. & Mtshali, H. 2018. Aloe ferox Mill. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2022/01/23

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Distribution map

© S. Parbhoo

© D. Turner

© D. Turner

© D. Turner

© D. Turner

© J.H. Vlok/A.L. Schutte-Vlok

© I. Ebrahim

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