Meet Aloysius (al-ə-WISH-əs)!
Aloysius is an Aloe Vera (A. Vera), a member of the Asphodeloideae family of leaf succulents. He is a very short-stemmed succulent that can grow up to 39″ tall; currently, he is a mere 28″. His leaves are thick and fleshy with a grey-green color. The outer edge of each leaf is serrated and has small white teeth; he has a vicious bite and that’s how he got his name, “The Vicious”!
Potted Aloe Veras produce “pups” that grow from the sides of the “mother plant” (in our case, the “father plant”; after all, he’s named after the 16th-century Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, not because we or our plant are religious, but because it rhymes with “vicious”). The pups can be divided and potted to produce a new generation of Aloe Vera, but since Aloysius was just recently repotted and there is lots of room for the pups, we won’t be dividing them until after the winter is over.
Aloe Vera doesn’t grow in the wild; it’s a cultivar. There are some aloes (that are not veras) that grow in the wild, but they are very distant relatives. Aloe Vera has been widely grown as an ornamental plant and is considered by many to be a medicinal plant. While there’s not been any scientific evidence that Aloysius and the gel you can squeeze from his fleshy leaves contain healing properties, I have used fresh aloe vera gel to soothe sunburn and, just the other day, I slit open a small piece and placed it inside my Grandmother’s cheek where she’d bitten her lip several times (and the bite site is healed nicely).
Aloysius is about 3 years old and had a very pampered life until my Grandmother had a heart attack. While she was gone, a friend kindly watered Aloysius, but never rotated him so he got sun on all sides. This caused him to grown slant-wise, and I’m in the process of getting him “straightened” out!
Usually flowers are produced in summer, but Aloysius grew his flower spike during the month of November, soon after being repotted. These spikes can grow up 35″ tall; his is a whopping 40″.
None of my Aloe Veras have ever bloomed, so when Aloysius sent up his flower stalk, I was amazed. My Grandmother said he’d done this once before, but no flowers ever appeared. At first I was curious why a plant would put up a flower stalk with no flowers, but today when I was fussing over him, I saw that the “bud”, which had opened up into separate “pods”, had stamens showing at the tips! Ah ha! Flowers! Very small and hard to see, but macro photography gives us an up-close and personal view.
Mother Nature is amazing!