Blooming aloes on the UC Davis campus

Last week a friend told me that the aloes on the UC Davis campus were in bloom. I couldn’t wait to go to see for myself. I went on Saturday but the photos I took were too contrasty because it was a clear and sunny day. That’s why I was very happy to wake up to an overcast sky on Sunday, and I ended up retaking most of my photos from the day before. (Photography tip: Overcast conditions are much better for plant photography than bright sun.)

I started at the Botanical Conservatory greenhouses on Kleiber Hall Drive.


Aloe arborescens


Aloe arborescens and Aloe littoralis (the tree-like specimens) outside the Botanical Conservatory greenhouses

Here I found Aloe arborescens, Aloe littoralis and Aloe microstigma in bloom. Others, including Aloe × spinosissima, Aloe buhrii and Aloe hereroensis, weren’t quite there yet.


Aloe arborescens and Aloe littoralis (the tree-like specimens)


Aloe microstigma


Aloe microstigma

140202_UCD_Aloe-microstigma_005 140202_UCD_Aloe-microstigma_006

Aloe microstigma


It looks like this huge clump (Aloe maculata?) didn’t get much, if any, water last summer. While most of the rosettes are very much alive, this is not the kind of look you want in your garden.

From the Botanical Conservatory I walked over to Storer Hall. In front of Storer Hall is the UC Davis Cycad Garden. The African cycads are interplanted with many different aloes.


In case you want to know more about aloes…


Aloe ferox

140202_UCD_Aloe-ferox- -Encephalartos-lehmanii_002

Aloe ferox and Encephalartos horridus

140202_UCD_125 140202_UCD_Aloe-excelsa_001

Aloe marlothii (or hybrid with Aloe ferox)

140202_UCD_Aloe melanacantha_001

Aloe melanacantha

140202_UCD_Aloe melanacantha_002 140202_UCD_Aloe melanacantha_003

Aloe melanacantha


Aloes outside of Storer Hall (the pale one in the middle if Aloe comosa)


Aloe suprafoliata


Aloe striata


Aloe striata or A. striata hybrids

From Storer Hall I took the path between the Sciences Lab Building and Haring Hall. Here you’ll find several beds planted with aloes, euphorbias and other African succulents as well as a large bed planted with palo verdes, Yucca rostrata and cacti native to the American Southwest (fodder for another post).


Aloe arborescens


Aloe marlothii

140202_UCD_Aloe-ferox_004 140202_UCD_Aloe-ferox_002

Aloe ferox


Aloe ferox


Aloe reitzii

140202_UCD_066 140202_UCD_072

Aloe africana with a short trunk

My final stop were the plantings next to the Sciences Lab Building along Hutchison Drive.


Aloe arborescens and Star of Madeira (Echium candicans ‘Star of Madeira’)

The bed you’ll see in the next set of photos has nice specimens of Aloe ferox and Aloe marlothii, among others.


Aloe plantings next to the Sciences Lab Building


Aloe plantings next to the Sciences Lab Building


Foreground: Aloe microstigma

140202_UCD_Aloe-ferox- -marlothii_001

Aloe ferox (left), Aloe marlothii (right)

140202_UCD_Aloe-ferox- -marlothii_003 140202_UCD_Aloe-ferox_005

Aloe ferox

140202_UCD_Aloe-ferox- -marlothii_004

Aloe ferox (left), Aloe marlothii (right)


Aloe marlothii


Aloe marlothii


Aloe marlothii


Aloe striata flowers

My favorite aloe of them all was Aloe hereroensis. Check out the stunning flowers and the beautiful rosette! The leaves are very pale and can take on a pink tinge. On some specimens the striping seems to be more pronounced than on others. Apparently this is a very common species in Africa, but here it is anything but. I’ll be on the lookout to find one for my own yard!


Aloe hereroensis


Aloe hereroensis


Aloe hereroensis


Aloe hereroensis


Aloe hereroensis rosette up close (this particular specimen is in front of the Botanical Conservatory greenhouses)


Aloe hereroensis getting ready to bloom (this particular specimen is between the Sciences Lab Building and Haring Hall)

If you want to check out these aloes in person, I suggest you come on the weekend. Parking is free on Saturday and Sunday. Otherwise it’s $8 for a daily visitor permit.

Here is a handy campus map for your visit.


  1. Wow, I don't see any frost damage from the week of freezing temps. Do you know if they do anything to protect these plants?

    1. I didn't see any frost damage either. I doubt any of these aloes get protected during a cold spell. That would be far too much work. Plus, they should all be hardy in our climate (zone 9b).

  2. I was paging down down down and stopped at the gorgeous Aloe hereroensis. I paged back up to learn it was your favorite too, and a new name as well. What a beauty!

    1. The ironic thing is I photographed these Aloe hereroensis last year. They must not have made an impression then, but they sure did this year.

  3. Your timing is perfect Gerhard, it looks like they're all at their blooming prime. And just to echo Loree and yourself, that Aloe heroroensis is something very special indeed, and inflorescence looks unique from the rest.

    1. We're definitely close to the peak of the aloe bloom season. I'll be at the Ruth Bancroft Garden this Saturday (Feb 8) for an aloe tour; look for a post next week.

  4. Having never seen mature aloes in bloom, do they have any fragrance? Just wondering if they pleased the nose as much as the eyes. :)


Post a Comment