Aloe welmelensis (Hargeissa)
Aloe welmelensis is a rare and threatened succulent plant species found only in one river valley in southern Ethiopia.
Aloe welmelensis (Photo: Sebsebe Demissew)
Aloe welmelensis Sebsebe & Nordal
Critically Endangered (CR) based on EOO (extent of occurrence). Endangered based on AOO (area of occupancy).
Vertical rock faces, edges of rocky valleys and outcrops along rivers.
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 and 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.
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.
Demissew, S., Friis, I., Awas, T., Wilkin, P., Weber, O., Bachman, S. & Nordal, I. (2011). Four new species of Aloe (Aloaceae) from Ethiopia, with notes on the ethics of describing new taxa from foreign countries. Kew Bulletin 66: 111-121.
Kew Science Editor: Paul Wilkin
Copyediting: Emma Tredwell
Kew would like to thank the following contributors: Sebsebe Demissew of the National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University
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