Aloe tauri, Aloe vanbalenii, and Aloe 'Buena Creek'

Aloe tauri "Bullocks Bottle Brush Aloe"
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Aloe tauri is a less common Aloe from Zimbabwe. It turns an intense dark red under the right conditions. Mine obviously doesn't have those conditions. Unfortunately I completely forgot about it for a year or two (not that that hurt it).  I had planted a very small copy of it and Aloe vanbalenii in between two copies of a rather so-so local hybrid Aloe sold as Aloe 'Buena Creek'.

So-so looking is 'Buena Creek', but in regards to vigor, so-so it is not--this plant shows "hybrid vigor", to put it mildly. It grows like a weed. I kept meaning to get A. tauri and A. vanbalenii out of there.  My motivation was increased by seeing a clump of A. vanbalenii over at the UCI Arboretum that was at least 10 feet (3 m) wide.  But I didn't get around to it until yesterday.

Both were a lot bigger than they were when I got them, and even though I dug them out I have no real idea how they managed to grow at all, being squeezed on both sides by 'Buena Creek'.

Aloe vanbalenii, Starfish Aloe

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A. vanbalenii is another Aloe that can turn a brilliant red under the right conditions. Being squeezed between a pair of 'Buena Creek's obviously is not the right condition for this Aloe, too.  This one had quite a root system, though I was able to dig it up rather easily because the soil was so loose.  Free of all soil, it must have weighed 30 lbs (13 kg) at least, and I had trouble carrying it to its new 'Buena Creek'-less home, since I had to crawl up a slope and climb over a stucco wall while holding it carefully to avoid breaking the foliage.  This one is sometimes called the Starfish aloe, because the foliage curves gracefully along the ground like the "arms" of a starfish.

Aloe 'Buena Creek'

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That small space between those two clumps above is where A. tauri and A. vanbalenii were jammed. Considering A. vanbalenii is about 3 feet (1 m) across, I'm still wondering how they did it. 'Buena Creek' is not the most interesting Aloe to look at, and it's a mystery as to what exactly it is a cross of.  It's there, it grows. For now that will do. 

A. tauri and A vanbalenii were two of the first Aloes I got, and I got those two because of their ability to redden up.  I was so ignorant about Aloes at the time, I didn't realize they produced flowers that some people might consider slightly ornamental.  That's pretty ignorant!  I'm glad I know better now, but I still hope those two aloes will redden up eventually.  I like my lillies gilded. 


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