Tuesday, February 28, 2017

UC Davis aloes—2/26/17 update

The UC Davis campus has quite a few aloe plantings that I like to keep an eye on. These are not in the Arboretum but rather on the main campus so students walk by them every day.

Last year, the peak of the bloom was in early February. Overall, it was a very good year for flowers.

This year we're several weeks behind schedule because of the long periods of rain and the attendant lack of sunshine. In addition, some species, most notably Aloe hereroensis, were set back both by frost and an excess of rain. I don't think any of the Aloe hereroensis on campus will bloom normally this year; just like mine, their flowers sustained heavy frost damage.

Let's start at the Botanical Conservatory greenhouses on Kleiber Hall Drive:

Aloe ferox hyb rid (left), Aloe arborescens and many more


Aloe ferox (left), yellow-flowering form of Aloe arborescens

Not an aloe, but pretty: Euphorbia atropurpurea

Aloe microstigma

Aloe microstigma

From the Botanical Conservatory I walked over to Storer Hall. Growing between two junipers is this Aloe arborescens:

Aloe arborescens
In front of Storer Hall is the UC Davis Cycad Garden. The African cycads are interplanted with many different aloes.

Not quite there: Gonialoe variegata, formerly known as Aloe variegata. The partridge breast aloe is very common in cultivation but it's always been challenging for me. I must have lost a handful over the years due to rot (even when watering only sparingly).

In the next photo, look for a fallen giant. Hint: the roots are near the blue cycad in the lower left. This is an Aloe marlothii hybrid that once stood 10 ft. tall and toppled over in January as a result of the excessive rain that caused the ground to soften.


What's interesting here is that the flowers have continued to develop and are now facing straight up again--a 90° turn from where they were when the aloe fell over!


Aloe ferox with Encephalartos horridus

Aloe melanacantha

Aloe melanacantha

Fallen Aloe africana, mirroring what happened to the large Aloe marlothii above
Here's a little Gasteria interlude. Gasterias are closely related to aloes--so close, in fact, that they're able to interbreed. Quite a few intergeneric hybrids exist. They're called ×Gasteraloe or ×Gastrolea. 'Green Ice' and 'Lizard Tail' are probably the best known.


Gasteria sp.

Gasteria acinacifolia

The genus name Gasteria comes from the Latin word "gaster" (stomach). This is a reference to the flowers, which are vaguely stomach-shaped:

Gasteria acinacifolia flowers

Gasteria acinacifolia flowers

Gasteria sp.
Aloe striata, not quite there yet

Magnolia in full flower

Across from Storer Hall there's a path between the Sciences Lab Building and Haring Hall. Here you’ll find several beds planted with aloes, euphorbias and other African succulents.

More Aloe arborescens
Aloe arborescens

Aloe africana

Aloe africana

Aloe suprafoliata (left), Aloe microstigma (right)

Aloe ×spinosissima

Aloe humilis, one of the parents of Aloe ×spinosissima (the other being Aloe arborescens)

The nicest aloe planting is next to the Sciences Lab Building along Hutchison Drive:

Aloe microstigma
Aloe microstigma

Aloe marlothii (left), Aloe ferox (right)

Aloe marlothii

Aloe marlothii

Aloe ×spinosissima

Walking back to the Botanical Conservatory where I had parked, I noticed a new planting at the western edge of the parking lot. I can't wait to see what this area will look like in a year or two.

Aloe ferox

Near where I had parked I spotted this pickup truck with a bunch of cactus stems in the trunk:


I have no idea what the story is there, but I'm hoping they're going to plant them somewhere on campus.

Note: These photos were taken on Saturday, February 18 (overcast) and Sunday, February 26 (sunny).

8 comments:

  1. Arresting hot colors! I was excited that one of my aloes, spending the winter inside, produced a couple of bloom spikes. Aloe bloom time is a magical thing in your neck of the woods!

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    1. It really is magical. Even more so because the UC Davis plants get virtually NO care and not much supplemental water. I often think I pamper my plants too much.

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  2. All these enormous, muscular California Aloes are so fascinating, it must be marvelous seeing them in bloom. The few Aloes that I grow in the greenhouse all winter are all tiny, in pots, and the blooms are accordingly also tiny.

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    1. LOL, that's how I feel about all the large-leaved plants you can grow so easily. Here they're small and constantly struggling (well, maybe not THIS winter).

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  3. That's a tremendous show! I planted a tiny Euphorbia atropurpurea (from Annie's) last year and it's still tiny - I thought it got too little water last year and now I fear perhaps it's had too much but maybe it just doesn't like it here.

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    1. Kris, the E. atropurpurea at the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory gets ZERO care--and probably not even supplemental water. But it's well established. I think it needs more water initially but then can go with very little.

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  4. This is so nice to see ! Business travel has restricted my weekend garden visits, and so has the horrible weed situation here.Going to have 3 yards of mulch delivered this week and hopefully that will help .

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  5. Their microstigmas are huge, at least in comparison to mine. It's been super slow here. The fallen marlothii missed smashing the gorgeous Encephalartos, how lucky was that? It could be re-rooted, if they can build a support for it and get 20 guys to push it vertical again, but that's probably too much to hope for, right?

    How much sun exposure is their Gasteria acinicifolia getting? I want one of those.

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