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Products > Aloe camperi
Aloe camperi - Nubian Aloe
Image of Aloe camperi
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Aloeaceae (now Asphodeloideae)
Origin: Ethiopia (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Coral
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [Aloe eru, A. abysinica, Lam.]
Height: 2-3 feet
Width: Spreading
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Aloe camperi (Nubian Aloe) - A colony forming aloe that suckers or branches near the base with individual rosettes reaching nearly 2 feet tall and wide with narrow light green leaves that are flat on the upper surface and angle upwards then arch over towards the tips with sharp spines along the margins. This plant reliably produces 3 foot tall branched inflorescences with an abundance of salmon-orange buds that open to yellow flowers from the bottom up in late spring - here in Santa Barbara it is spectacular in May and lingering into June.

Plant in full sun and irrigate little to occasionally. Hardy to mid 20's F - no damage was observed on our plants in the January 2007 cold spell with three nights down to at 25 F, but plants were noted as damaged at temperatures in the low 20's by Brian Kemble at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Grove. This great landscape plant is very showy in full bloom and has been in cultivation in California for many years under the name Aloe eru.

Aloe camperi is from Eretria in northeastern Africa south to Ethiopia at elevations ranging from 4,600 feet to 8,300 feet and was first described using this name in 1891 by Georg Schweinfurth, a German who lived in Riga in the Baltic Provinces of Russia, from a plant collected at about 4,600 feet in the Great Valley above Ghinda in Eritrea. It had been discovered in habitat prior to this time at least by 1817 by German botanist and horticulturist, Prince Joseph Salm-Reifferscheid-Dyck, who described it as Aloe abbysinica, Lam., having been described as such by Lamarck in 1783 from a plant that explorer James Bruce had collected while traveling from Eritrea on the Red Sea to the Nile and north to Cairo, though the location of collection was never noted.

Further confusion on the name of this plant was caused by the naming of this species as Aloe Eru by Alwin Berger in his "Das Pflanzenreich" and this name is still often used for this plant. Schweinfurth named Aloe camperi for his friend Manfedo Camperio, an Italian born resident of Eritrea. It has been called Nubian Aloe in literature though most references do not indicate that it naturally inhabits the range of the Nubian people of southern Egypt or Sudan, but a collection made in Sudan (between Suakin and Berber) by Schweinfurth in 1868 is on record at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. From this same trip Schweinfurth wrote in his journals "What a prospect! How gay with its variety of hue, green, red and yellow! Nothing could be more pleasant than the shade of the acacia, nothing more striking than the abundance of bloom of the Abyssinian aloe, transforming the dreary sand beds into smiling gardens." With such confusion existing between Aloe abbyssinca and A. camperi and because Schweinfurth traveled from Eritrea through Egypt, it is not clear which aloe Schweinfurth was referring to in this statement, but it very well could have been Aloe camperi, which is sometimes marketed as "The Popcorn Aloe" because of its more open apricot-yellow flowers that get described as being "puffy".

We also grow a yellow flowering form of this species that we list as Aloe camperi 'Yellow' and the late spring flowering of both the orange and yellow forms of Aloe camperi distinguishes them plant from a form (or possibly a hybrid) that flowers earlier in March that has long been grown at the Huntington Botanic Garden (HBG#92) and was distributed as an International Succulent Introduction as Aloe camperi 'Conuta' (ISI -2005-15). 

This information about Aloe camperi displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.