The tallest of South African aloes, Aloe barberae can reach a height of 10 to 18 m and is best known for its upright shape that has architectural qualities. Naturally occurring in a broad coastal band, stretching from the Eastern Cape to Mozambique, the tree flourishes in a summer rain area with little or no frost.
The Tree aloe has a smooth, greyish stem and branching could be forked or dichotomous. A neat, rounded spreading crown consists of dark green leaves that can be over a meter long. The leaf margins are armed with small, white teeth. Although the tree has a shallow, spreading root system, care should be taken not to plant it too close to buildings as the ‘foot’ or base of the trunk can grow to huge proportions.
Evergreen, the Tree aloe flowers in mid-winter and produces relatively small flowers that can vary in colour from orange to pink, depending on the locality. The flowers attract sunbirds and insects with its rich nectar.
Aloe barberae is easy to grow as long as it is planted in full sun and very well-drained soil. It is not very frost hardy, but will tolerate light frost if planted in a sheltered sport and protected for the first few years. The tree can tolerate drought, but will grow faster if watered moderately during dry spells. This tree makes an excellent focal point in the garden and grows well in large pots, making it an ideal specimen for garden and office parks.