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Aloe welmelensis (Hargeissa)

Aloe welmelensis is a rare and threatened succulent plant species found only in one river valley in southern Ethiopia.

Aloe welmelensis in situ

Aloe welmelensis (Photo: Sebsebe Demissew)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Aloe welmelensis Sebsebe & Nordal

Common name: 

Hargeissa (Oromiffa)

Conservation status: 

Critically Endangered (CR) based on EOO (extent of occurrence). Endangered based on AOO (area of occupancy).

Habitat: 

Vertical rock faces, edges of rocky valleys and outcrops along rivers.

Key Uses: 

Medicine.

Known hazards: 

None known.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Lilianae
Order: 
Asparagales
Family: 
Xanthorrhoeaceae
Genus: Aloe

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.

Genus: 
Aloe

Discover more

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.

Description

Flowers of Hargeissa. One has been cut in half lengthways to reveal the male and female reproductive organs. (Photo: 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.

Uses

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.

References and credits

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

Although every effort has been taken to ensure that the information contained in these pages is reliable and complete, notes on hazards, edibility and suchlike included here are recorded information and do not constitute recommendations. No responsibility will be taken for readers’ own actions. 

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