As the name implies, plants of this species can become quite tall (as Sansevierias go). Actually, it rather looks like a Yucca.
The stems are up to 1.5 m tall, branching at or near the base, with many leaves. These are 20-45 cm long and 2-4.5 cm wide, with a whitish or reddish margin and usually somewhat twisted.
The species is locally very common in lowland thornbush in Kenya and Tanzania.
The pictures were taken on 4 October 2015 in the Bamba area (Kilifi district, Kenya) at altitudes between 160 and 230 m.
This species was described in 1994 from Hurran Hurra in Kenya (west of North Horr, at the north end of the Chalbi Desert). A year later a second locality was found, but no other ones have been recorded.
Northern Kenya is rather under-collected, so the species may well occur in other places too, but for the moment it should be considered to be rare and endangered.
I was therefore quite chuffed to be able to see the species in the wild. The population looked quite healthy and several plants were in flower. The altitude of the locality is about 580 m.
Aloe ketabrowniorum forms low clumps to ca. 1 m in diameter, branching from the base. The stem creep on the ground with their tips raised and are to 30 cm long.
The leaves are to 38 cm long and 4.5 cm wide at the base, with small but firm marginal teeth. The inflorescences are to 70 cm tall.
The last photo depicts a seedling in cultivation (a scan from an old slide). The little plant shows the transitional phase between forming pairs of spines and single spines.
The name kalisana has its origin in Swahili and means very fierce. This is indeed the first impression the plants convey. At the same time they are peculiarly beautiful with their colourful stems and often almost white spinescence .
The plant’s roots are thick and fleshy and give rise to a stem up to 7.5 cm high and 20 cm in diameter, its top usually more or less at ground-level. Its sprawling branches are up 1 m long and to 2 cm thick, with very robust, to 7 cm long spines.
One can find the plants in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia on gravelly soil (often lava) at an altitude between 100 and 100o m.
The pictures were taken south and north of Mt. Kulal, at altitudes between 485 and 925 m. The plants from this very arid area are usually larger and more robust than those from the lower altitude plains further east.
The first picture gives an impression of one of these desolate places between Loiyangalani and North Horr.
Of the about 900 species of the Pumpkin Family (Cucurbitaceae), nearly 10% can be classified as a caudiciform succulent. The subject of this post is a clear example.
It is a climber with a tuberous rootstock 15-20 cm across, which is visible above ground and tapers into the stems which may be up to 7 m long.
Young stems are green and soft, soon becoming dark green, grey or brownish and somewhat woody.
The plants are dioecious (either male or female) and produce egg-shaped
fruits which are bright red, up to 7 x 3 cm and beaked (=rostrata).
The species occurs in deciduous bushland, thicket , woodland and wooded grassland from sea level to 1650 m in tropical East Africa: southern Ethiopia and the adjacent part of Somalia, northeastern Uganda, Kenya, northern and central Tanzania.
The pictures were taken in Kenya and northern Tanzania, except for the last one, which shows a young plant in cultivation.
Both species in this genus (the other one is M. stenophylla) are characterized by having thick, branched tap-roots.
In this species the leaves are up to 45 mm long and about 5 mm wide.
The showy flowers are often striped and appear in July/August. At least that is what the literature tells us. The photos below however were taken at the end of October.
The plants occur in open patches in grasslands, fynbos or karroo vegetation from Beaufort West to Uniondale, Prince Albert and Oudtshoorn. Again: that is according to the literature, but the pictures were taken rather further west, near the northern entrance to the Seweweekspoort.
When these plants are in flower, they are easy to recognize because of the very big calyxes.
They form robust shrubs to 30 cm tall, with subcymbiform (more or less boat-shaped) leaves. These are 6-8 mm long and to 3 mm wide and have short little spines at the base of each pair.
The flowers are about 3.5 cm in diameter.
The plants occur on flats and rocky sandstone slopes in the
The pictures were taken in October 2013, between Montagu and Anysberg.