Aloe hemmingii Reynolds & P.R.O.Bally
Mosaic Aloe, Sanaag Aloe
Aloe hemmingii is an attractive succulent that forms rosettes of shiny, lime green to dark green or orange leaves with numerous white linear spots. The rosettes have 10 to 15 leaves and grow up to 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. Flowers are yellow to reddish and appear in spring on an unbranched or few-branched inflorescence. This species is very similar to Aloe somaliensis and often erroneously sold as Aloe harlana by many nurseries and garden centers.
Photo by Cok Grootscholten
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Aloes can live long and thrive with very little care. These plants are great for beginners.
When growing Aloes indoors, place your plants near a southern or southwest-facing window that gets plenty of bright, indirect light. To keep your Aloes looking green, avoid exposing them to direct sun, which can cause leaves to brown. Rotate the pots once or twice a week so that all sides of the plants receive equal lighting. Rotating your Aloe also helps balance out the look of the plant, as leaves tend to grow toward the sunlight.
Outdoors, provide light shade, especially during the hottest parts of the day. An excellent spot for growing Aloe outdoors is on a covered patio or porch.
Plant Aloes in a well-drained soil specially formulated for cacti and other succulents or make your soil mix. Drainage is essential because too much moisture around roots can cause root rot.
These succulents do need regular watering but are very tolerant of drought conditions for short periods. Water deeply, but only when the soil is completely dry. Cut back on watering during the winter months. Overwatering is the top reason Aloe plants die. Do not let water stand in the rosettes.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Aloe.
Aloe hemmingii is native to the Sanaag region in northern Somalia.
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Mosaic Aloe (Aloe harlana)
Picked up these two 4" Mosaic Aloe (Aloe harlana) at a Dallas Lowe's Nursery.
This message was edited Apr 1, 2011 10:27 PM
Although they are one of the more available species, I for one, believe Aloe harlana is one of the most beautiful! Nice plants Kimchi!
Except that's not Aloe harlana. That is Aloe hemmingii, also a nice aloe. but often sold as Aloe harlana (though I am unsure why this error continues. they really don't look all that much alike).
Thanks for the correction PB. I have one of these aloes and have always assumed it was A. harlana as labeled. I never looked it up until now and it is now clear that these are commonly mislabeled.
You know, this misidentification is so rampant in the nursery box stores it's annoying! You'd think the suppliers of these specimens would know better since they are in the business and the suppliers! I've come across posts where species are later correctly identified despite the label on the pots. How uninformed are these suppliers.
What are the differences between Aloe harlana, Aloe hemmingii, and Aloe somaliensis? Unless I do a side-by-side comparison of the official descriptions, they look pretty much alike to me. I know A. harlana has orange-red flowers and A. hemmingii and A. somaliensis have pinkish flowers. What else?
There are many of these 'shiny, spotted, brittle' north African aloes that do have those shared characterstics and some of them are indeed quite hard to tell apart. For example, telling Aloe mcloughlinii from hemmingii is still a puzzlement to me (though one is pretty rare and the other is super common, so that's pretty much the way I tell those apart). A somaliensis is like a large Aloe hemmingii with a more complex flower (more colors), but those can be difficult to tell apart, too (though most mature Aloe somaliensis are only faintly, if spotted at all). I have seen many Aloe somaliensis that are virtually identical to Aloe hemmingii, so I am guessing they ARE Aloe hemmingiis, as the ones that have positively identified do not look the same to me. Aloe peckii is very similar, too, but loses its spots completely in maturity and stays the size of A hemmingii. I have one in my garden (I hope) that is still spotted and as it gets larger and keeping its spots, I am nervous that I, too, have gotten the wrong thing. Aloe suffulta has long skinny leaves and incredibly long infloresences so it is not that hard to distinguish.
Aside from Aloe suffulta, Aloe harlana is the easiest to tell apart as it is a much larger (easily 2x the size) aloe than all these other ones, and has very faint and exaggeratedly linear spotting, and the flowers are nothing like the other plants' flowers- has large, complex infloresences with dark red, to red-purple, dense, head-shaped racemes. not the skinny pathetic pink flowers of hemmingii and some of the others. Also, Aloe harlana is very hard to come by, so if you got one at a local store or on-line, I would already be suspicious that you didn't get the real thing (I have been looking for one of my own for 6 years now and still have not come across one). However, if any of you DO find the real thing, please let me know.
You should check out the photos of all these plants in our plant files and many of the differences will become obvious.
Thanks for the info, palmbob. It all makes my head swim! I have two small Aloes that I haven't been able to ID except that they're "probably" A. harlana, A. hemmingii, or A. somaliensis. In their 3.5" pots they have very beautiful elongated elliptical whitish spots, and kind of brownish-green flat leaves. Hard to tell how they'll look when they're mature. Someone told me they were A. somaliensis, but he wasn't someone I would consider an expert. I keep forgetting to take them to my C&S meeting and ask Brian Kemble, who is an Aloe expert.
BTW: I'll try to remember to ask him about availability of A. harlana too. He doesn't have it available on his website, but he might have some coming up.
Thank you for that great education on the elusive harlana and differentiating a couple of commonly misidentified species! Very kind of you to offer your input. Clarifies much for me.
Whatever you have Kimchi, they are very nice!
Hope you don't mind, but now I'm curious as to what I might have. Here's a picture. PB or Faeden, should I label this 4 year old plant A. hemmingii? For perspective, it's 10 - 12" in diameter.
Don't ask me - I'm still confused. LOL. Guess I'll have to do those side-by-side comparisons after all.
That is consistent with Aloe hemmingii, though couldn't 100% rule out Aloe mcloughlinii (though spots a tad prominent for that one). Certainly nothing like Aloe harlana.
Typical Aloe harlana. this plant is 'upright' (note leaves pointing up to the sky) and has leaves that are about as long as the entire diameter of an Aloe hemmingii, has very thin, faint linear spots and has a robust infloresence.
Here's a shot with my foot in it, to show relative size. Never seen an Aloe hemmingii anywhere near this size. again, notice the upright leaves (and increased number of leaves).
This message was edited Apr 2, 2011 6:30 PM
It also looks like it stays pretty green. Mine's a lot more brownish-green.
The differences seem pretty clear now. Of course that means I'll have to join in the hunt for a real Aloe harlana!
I'm not buying it but if anyone interested, an Ebay seller is offering the following for $30 shpg included:
7 cm - Aloe harlana ex. Harla Province, Ethiopia - Very attractive and rare collectors item
Current bid is $10 shipping is $20, and phytosanitary certificate (which is necessary for shipment to the U.S.) is $35. So if the person who has the current bid is in the U.S. it will cost $65, not $35. Unless, of course, you want to take the chance of losing your plant to Customs.
Another good indicator you haven't stumbled upon harlana is, despite pot label, if they're asking $3.99 at the box store. You know, like mine.
I know this will get a ton of "boos" and sounds terrible, but I still like mine with the darker tones a lot more! I really do like the two I picked out.
This message was edited Apr 4, 2011 7:28 PM
I agree Kimchi, the aloes you picked out are very nice. In fact, I liked them so well I bought the same plant also from Lowes-----
Just because Aloe hemmingii is not rare, does not mean it is not a gorgeous plant
Here's my Aloe hemmingii that was labelled as A. harlana also. It really is gorgeous!
Nice! My A. hemmingii has been in park since I got it. must have been some stress or shock along the way. It's just sitting there. I looked at the roots and they're fine, no bugs. Maybe I fried it in the sun. Wouldn't be the first time.
Mine is situated on the north side of my house so it gets very little direct sun. It has doubled in size since I got it as a small plant. Yours definitely looks like it is getting too much sun. You could move it to a shady spot and I'll bet it starts growing. Here is the same plant with a tennis ball for perspective on its size.
All of my aloes look like they're getting too much sun, Nancy. Most of them are blushing red/yellow/brown, especially with the big increase in light they're getting right now. Springtime does that here. The light intensity has doubled since its winter minimum. Most of them groove right along.
Here's an A. congolensis with the kind of colors I'm talking about. It's rocking right now (and has 3 offsets on the way). Full sun for most of the day and kept on the dry side.
But back to the problem plant. That Aloe hemmingii gets 2-3 hours of sun a day with good protection otherwise. I guess I should dial that number down to zero. Or maybe just donate the plant to my neighbor, who gardens in the shade. Her Aeoniums grow at least twice as fast as mine.
Wow, that's a beautiful one, Baja! It looks quite similar to my A. 'Dorothae" but mine is more green because I keep it in more shade. I just hate to take a chance with the AZ sun. One day the sun is not too intense and, before I know it, it has gotten too hot and damaged plants.
Does anyone here know where to get albino aloes? I looked, and they aren't in stores like Lowe's or HD. Maybe online? If anyone has a dependable vendor online, or eBay that they can share for this, I'd be grateful :)
Do you mean variegated, or do you truly mean 'albino'? Not sure I've seen a true albine aloe, but doubt it would survive long. Do you care what species, cause Aloe maculata variegates are very common, though the less color, the harder they are to come by. Aloe nobilis variegates are pretty common, too, and quite colorful. Never seen one for sale on line, though
I guess I meant variegated. I was looking for a Aloe nobilis variegate but haven't encountered one in the stores.The ones I see online are mostly green with some streaks of yellow variegation. any suggestions of where I can get one? Are there dwarf versions of these. My problem with my aloes is that I end up wrestling with them as they get big, and then have babies, and splitting them (with their tap roots and thorns) is a beastly job!
As of 4/9/11, there are two Aloe nobilis variegates on Ebay from $15 to $30 + shipping and I very often see them sold on Ebay with photos of actual specimen being sold. You may want to create a alert at Ebay to notify you as soon as any preferred species becomes available.
Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)
Where to Grow:
Can be grown as an annual
Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling
Soil pH requirements:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Vista, California(9 reports)
On Jan 21, 2015, poeciliopsis from Phoenix, AZ wrote:
Central Phoenix -- I too was sold this plant as Aloe harlana, but I think it is actually A. hemmingii. It has a pink flower with no branching, but is fairly large -- about a foot across and has one offshoot. It is in the ground in partial shade and light water and does well. I don't cover it in the winter and it has been growing since the late 1990s, including several hard freezes.
On Aug 30, 2009, Porphyrostachys from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:
This species has no problem with the heat or frosts of the Arizona desert. It often flowers during the summer when not much else is doing anything, but also flowers randomly throughout the year. A welcome addition to the desert that seems to look best in filtered light.
On Aug 9, 2009, baiissatva from Dunedin,
New Zealand wrote:
Zone 9b coastal Otago New Zealand
I grow mine indoors, so I cant comment on it's hardiness, though it's so totally undemanding that I wouldn't argue with anyone who says it's a toughie.
I too was sucked in by the classic story- bought it at a homewares shop, label assuring me it was aloe harlana (Ive come across a number of surprisingly uncommon species in this particular place so it never crossed by mind that it was too good to be true), took it home, gloating over my amazing purchase, and waited for it to get large. And waited, and waited. Doh!
I mustnt complain about this very lovely little plant, though- with it's lizardy speckles, cute mini spines and nice gloss it's really a star. Mine's starting to pup at about 15cm across. It's never rotted, scarr. read more ed, gone black-tip or sulked, in fact it's so perfect it looks fake! A colony of these beneath a trunking aloe would be superkool.
Mine grows on a windowsill in half shade. I water once a week or so year round. Nice!
On Aug 29, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:
smaller, flattly oriented, shiny. stiff and spotted- leaved aloe from Somalia.. has simple pale pink flowers most of the year (at least late summer straight through spring). Rapidly becoming one of the most commonly sold aloes at nursery outlet centers. I always see these for sale there. must be easy growers. So far I have had no problems with any- survive in full sun, full shade, heavy water, no water.
This aloe is commonly misidentified as the much larger and much rarer Aloe harlana, a wonderful solitary species with similar spotting and similarly shiny, stiff spiny leaves. Aloe harlana has about a 1'-1.5' diameter (2-3x the size of aloe hemmingii) and is nearly always solitary (aloe hemingii is either solitary or a prolific offsetter). Aloe harlana has large . read more red to dark red flowers, sometimes orange flowers, but as far as I know, never pink flowers. Also Aloe harlana only flowers once a year, while Aloe hemingii flowers all year round. Aloe hemmingii inflorescence usually is unbranched, or rarely, has 1-2 branches. Compare this with Aloe harlana or somaliensis which always have multilbranched infloresences. I have never seen Aloe harlana for sale at home depot, while Aloe hemmingii is always there (Targets, too). In fact, I am still looking for A harlana (rare in cultivation) for my garden.
Aloes: striking exteriors, soothing interiors
Aloe vera. In one moment, this treasured, toothed succulent can claim a piece of your skin. In the next, after suffering something far greater, even if it’s “just a flesh wound” (in Monty Python terms), the aloe can be used to soothe your little owie. How many other plants can do that? (We’ll wait here for an answer before continuing. Or not.)
Aloe vera is the most famous of the first-aid aloes, but species such as cape aloe (A. ferox) and Perry’s aloe (A. perryi) are also prized for their comforting properties. Those are but three of the some 500 species known to exist, plus the many nursery introductions sought by gardeners and collectors.
Native to southern Africa, Madagascar, and the Arabian Peninsula, aloes range from fist-sized to trees, but all have gel-filled, lance-shaped leaves. They bloom for several weeks, often in winter, sending up waxy, torch-like flowers in brilliant shades of orange, yellow, or rose-red. Some, like torch aloe (A. arborescens), are ubiquitous in public as well as private spaces. Whether you’re perfectly content with common aloes or crave those not easily sourced, they are great for attracting hummingbirds as well as for making bold statements.
Considered as a whole, aloes are flexible garden participants, with many species thriving in water-stingy, generously heated landscapes and others excelling as houseplants or patio stars. Most should do fine in the great middle between those examples, although frost can be an issue with some species. Aloes make good pool- and structure-adjacent plants because of their shallow, non-sprawling root systems and lack of leaf litter. Generally figure on porous, well-drained soils and modest watering schedules.
To the shock of no one reading this, we at Altman are big fans of aloes and our breeding team has developed several varieties. Below are a handful of our favorites — trending toward the small side — that you can find at our online shops or, in some cases, at retail partners such as The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart.
This Altman cultivar is diminutive in size, but it boasts some can’t-miss attributes. A robust bloomer, the compact, upright grower produces pups freely. As one might imagine, the name does not refer to an unusual cold tolerance. The bright white variegation (with dark green banding) gets the credit for that.
Aloe ‘Blue Elf’
The largest of the aloes highlighted here and the hardiest too, ‘Blue Elf’ can reach 18 inches high, not counting the inflorescences, and spread to 2 feet wide. As for those blossoms, the plant flowers Jan./Feb. to early spring, with more orange-red goodness coming in spurts afterward. Those showy flowers contrast superbly with the upright, clumping blue-gray foliage. Ideal for massing.
An Altman-born variety, this little one adds nifty texture to a well-lit room, maybe in a bay window or as the focal point of a dish garden. It features bumpy rosettes of orange, white, and green.
Aloe ‘Christmas Sleigh’ anchors a simple arrangement
Not something for transporting Kris Kringle, this dwarf, starfish-shaped aloe features rigid green leaves with toothed red margins. Another Altman introduction, it makes a great pop of color in a container or when repeated in a landscape.
Aloe ‘Firebird’ does not resemble a starfish. A hybrid of A. descoingsii and A. thompsoniae, it forms a loose rosette to 6 inches in diameter with long, slender emerald green leaves that feature small, light speckles. Flowers are borne on tall spikes and are bright tangerine.
Native to Ethiopia, Aloe hemmingii (mosaic aloe) forms rosettes to 10 inches in diameter. The light, milky green leaves are banded transversely with deeper green in reptilian patterns. It sends up spikes of tubular flowers that vary from yellow to reddish.