Someone mailed me a small aloe start, with the label 'Aloe aculeata marlothii ssp. marlothii' (yeah, I have no idea what that was about). Here's a picture:

enter image description here

Looking up plants this young online, there seems to be a lot of variability in each species, and they look similar. A. ferox also looks similar. I have a very similar looking plant that was labeled 'Aloe marlothii', pictured below:

enter image description here

Now, being in Pennsylvania, I don't see many species of aloe growing. I do not know what the characteristics of these species are, or how to differentiate between them at a young age like this. Can anyone enlighten me?

1 Answer 1


The trouble with the Aloe world is, many of the varieties have more than one name - Aloe aculeata marlothii ssp.'marlothii' is also known as Aloe spectabilis. Either that or they've been renamed more than once down the years, so now there's a great deal of confusion as to which one is what. Many of the names get shortened in common use, so that the long name you were given might well be shortened to simply 'Aloe marlothii' by owners, and that is now reflected on the internet, increasing confusion. The particular variety you were told it was should have greyish blue leaves, but if you Google Aloe marlothii and select images, you're just as likely to see Aloe aculeata marlothii ssp. 'marlothii' as well as one with green leaves.

I'm fairly yours is Aloe aculeata; whether it's the variety 'marlothii' I'm not sure, but I'm no expert - this link http://succulent-plant.com/families/aloaceae.html shows many of the 450 varieties of Aloe.

  • bing.com/…
    – stormy
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 19:34
  • I didn't think 'marlothii' was a variety of 'aculeata', I thought it was a different species, and that the person who sent me the plant was just confused.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 10:39
  • No, I don't believe so - the 'ssp' bit means subspecies, and the full name of Aloe marlothii is actually Aloe aculeata marlothii.Quite why you'd need to have an ssp that's the same as the varietal name I'm not sure, but its not that unusual with plants. It's possibly accurately named, or just someone being a bit too enthusiastic/pedantic, not sure. Needs a botanist to sort that out!
    – Bamboo
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 10:41

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