Aloe capitata

The foliage can color up quite splendidly:

The one I bought was not nearly as beautiful:
Aloe capitata

But the price was right!

Colored up or not, the red edging is interesting:
Aloe capitata

And the blooms are distinctive, arranged in a kind of Beatles haircut structure:
Aloe capitata

Unfortunately, getting my prize in the car, I snapped off the mop-top.  Ah well, there's always next year.  Pulling it out of the pot, I found the top half of the pot stuffed tight with roots, and the bottom half completely devoid of anything but potting soil. 
Aloe capitata

Scrounging around the internet (just as I do at garden centers), I see there are several variations of Aloe capitata, so much so that one commenter termed it the "Aloe capitata group".   There is capitata var gnessicola and capitata var capitata.  Other capitata vars are quartziticola, silvicola, and angoavana.  What are the differences?  Slight variations in foliage and flower, apparently.

Aloe capitata 
Aloe capitata v. cipolinicola 
Aloe capitata v. gneissicola 
Aloe capitata v. quartziticola 
Aloe capitata v. slivicola 
Aloe capitata v. trachyticola = Aloe trachyticola
Aloe capitata v. capitata 

Aloe capitata x A. macroclada = A. imerinensis 
Aloe cernua = A. capitata v. capitata

This is generally a solitary, non-suckering aloe, endemic to Madagascar,  though I see one commenter says in the (relatively) lush conditions of southern California, his plant split at the growing point and eventually formed a clump of multiple rosettes.  Another owner said his plant survived the high 20s F without damage, indicating that on those near-32F nights, I can sleep without worrying about capitata. Another source said it was a summer-growing species that liked dryness in winter, which it will get, since it's slightly out of reach of any irrigation.  Must remember to water come summer.

We live by rumor, we plant nuts who comb the internet for information on obscure plants.  We find a scrap here and there, of often conflicting information, which must be taken with a large chunk of salt.  Any plant nut learns that while the internet is a fabulous source, it's not to be trusted.  You may read the same information in several different places, but it could be that the information was simply copied from one site numerous times.  Trust no one.   This is a good thing.  You learn not to take anything that seriously.  Publishing companies and major media companies used to demand fact-checking;  once upon a time there were standards.  Now, not so much--it cuts into profits.  And the wild west of the internet, along with post-industrial America's increasing disbelief in science, takes misinformation to a new level. 

I should buy a few books or go to the library, and obtain more solid knowledge. I did get that Aloe on sale, after all.   There's a few bucks left over.  A few more good books, a few less plants.    

Aloe capitata

I hope you don't take anything I say seriously.   Just...enjoy the pictures.


  1. Aloe capitata is just beautiful. Love the maroon that the foliage colours to, and the flowerhead is stunning (and scrolling upwards, the individual buds look like tiny green bananas).

  2. Beautiful, bargain, book-praising -- boffo blogpost!


  3. Keep taking pictures of this one; mine went in the trash after becoming infested with gall mites. grrrrrrr

  4. Marisa you are right, they do look like little bananas!

    Alan, thanks!

    Lynette, I remember... :(


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