Aloe welmelensis (Hargeissa)
Aloe welmelensis is a rare and threatened succulent plant species found only in one river valley in southern Ethiopia.
About this species
Aloe welmelensis has erect to creeping stems and is well adapted to living in dry, rocky habitats. Its flowers are scarlet and turned to one side of the inflorescence (flower stem). It has small spines along the margins of its fleshy leaves. Aloe welmelensis is collected by the inhabitants of the Welmel River valley for medicinal use.
Geography & Distribution
Aloe welmelensis is known only from the margins of the Welmel River in the Bale floristic region of Oromia Regional State in Ethiopia. It has been recorded at 1,050–1,500 m above sea level.
Flowers of A. welmelensis. One has been cut in half lengthways to reveal the male and female reproductive organs. (Image: Sebsebe Demissew)
Aloe welmelensis grows in clumps and has woody stems. Each plant has 10–18 smooth, waxy-looking, grey-green, succulent leaves that are spirally arranged along the stem. The leaves are 30–50 cm long and 2–4 cm wide, with red-tipped marginal spines up to 1 mm long. The inflorescence (flower stem) can reach 80 cm long and bear up to 50 flowers. Individual flowers are bright scarlet, tube-shaped, 28–32 mm long, but paler towards the tip, from which the stamens (male organs) emerge. They are carried on 5–7 mm long stalks and have a waxy appearance.
Sap from Aloe welmelensis is used to relieve pain due to ear infections. It has been reported that warming the leaves and putting them on affected parts can provide relief from headaches and rheumatism.
This species at Kew
Pressed and dried specimens of Aloe welmelensis are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world by appointment. The details of some of these, including images, can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.
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