This beautiful species occurs widespread from DR Congo and Tanzania to Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia on rocky slopes in wooded areas and cultivated lands at altitudes between 1200 and 2400 m.
It is also often cultivated as an ornamental as well as medicinal plant.
It has upright stems (often creeping at the base) 0.5-1.3 m. or more tall, with leaves up to 25 cm long and about 13 cm wide which are often marbled with brown to purple markings on both sides.
The inflorescences are 30 cm or more tall and the flowers are white (rarely cream), sometimes flushed with pale pink. The flower have long tubes, usually between 4.5 and 12 cm long.
This very distinctive species normally produces one single stem up
to 8 m tall and only 10-15 cm thick. Sometimes, plants branch from the base and form large shrubs.
Each stem bears about 25 leaves, up to 90 cm long and grey-green on both sides; the sap is poisonous.
The inflorescences are much-branched, with carmine to reddish-orange flowers.
The species is found in more or less dense bushland and thickets along rivers in
southern Kenya and northern Tanzania at altitudes between 900 and 1500 m.
In general, this species is stemless and growing singly or in small groups, but sometimes groups of over 20 rosettes are formed.
Each rosette has 14-16 leaves, about 16 cm long and 6 cm wide at the base, usually olive-green with many whitish-green spots, but in some cases light green and unspotted.
The flowers are very striking and because of their conspicuous stripes apparently unique within the genus.
The plants occur on gypsum soil in the Al Madu (Ahl Medow) Mountain Range (north of Erigavo) in Somaliland, at 1,500 to 1,550 m, mostly in shade.
Aloe somaliensis was described in 1899, from plants that were raised at Kew from seeds that had been collected a few years before, probably at Sheikh pass in Somaliland Protectorate (as it was then called). It is now known to occur not only in Somaliland but also in Djibouti, on rocky slopes at altitudes between 700 and 1700 m.
It may be of interest to know that the accompanying pictures were taken late January 2015, likely at roughly the same spot the original seeds came from.
The plants grow singly or in small groups and bear 12-16 leaves, usually narrowly lance-shaped and about 20 cm long.
The inflorescences are 60-80 cm tall.
Similar to, but taller and more impressive than, E. tescorum, this species occurs in the hilly region south of Lake Turkana in Kenya on rocky slopes with open bushland between 900 and 1800 m.
The plants grow into sturdy shrubs up to 2.5 m tall, with many 2-3 cm wide branches. These have 4-5, sometimes 6, angles; uniformly green or sometimes with somewhat darker blotches around the spine-shields; slightly constricted every 10-20 cm. The strong spines are to 1 cm long.
The name (with dark flowers) refers to the crimson cyathia; the fruits are almost black.
The pictures were taken about halfway between Baragoi and South Horr on 23 Sept 2015. Altitude about 1440m.
The first picture shows a healthy stand of Euph. magnicapsula ssp. lacertosa in the background.
A very common sight in Kenya in dry bush land at altitudes between 600 and 1500m.
The species is often confused with S. ehrenbergii but this occurs mainly in Arabia.
In the younger stages, both species have their leaves growing in all directions. At the mature stage, they show distichous growth; in other words, the leaves then grow in two ranks, like a fan. They have a bluish cast in S. ehrenbergii, whereas in S. robusta they are darkish green (almost yellow in the wild when growing in full sun). In S. robusta the back of the leaves shows 14-30 longitudinal darker green lines. In S. ehrenbergii this is not he case; only in very mature leaves there are some faint markings.
Mature plants of S. robusta have erect stems to 60 cm tall, each with 6-14 leaves to over 2 m long.
The inflorescence is 0.8-1.4 m tall, with white or greenish flowers.
The pictures were taken between Baragoi and South Horr, 23 Sept. 2015.
East Africa harbours several shrubby, spiny Euphorbia species which are often difficult to tell apart.
The species shown here occurs in northern Kenya and adjacent areas in Uganda and Ethiopia in very open bushland (often on lava) at altitudes between 400 and 1500 m.
The plants are mainly branched from the base and are up to 1.5 m(sometimes 2 m) tall. They have branches with 4-8 (usually 5-6) angles, up to 4 cm thick but somewhat constricted every 10-30 cm, usually with darker markings around the teeth.
Pictures 1 and 3 were taken last September south of Mt. Kulal on the eastern side of Lake Turkana in Kenya. The other two are scans from slides made in 1990 west of the lake.