Horticulture in the Desert

a place to share and learn about plants in the Sonoran Desert

Aloe dichotoma – Quiver Tree

Posted by VT Jenny on January 8, 2009

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pict00611Native to Western parts of South Africa and Namibia which are dry desert and semi-desert areas, the Aloe dichotoma is a unique tree aloe. The species name dichotoma means ‘divided in two’ referring to the branching structure where, after flowering, the branch then divides in two and continues growing.

The common name “Quiver Tree” comes from the native bushmen people using the branches to make Quivers. The interior of the branch is pulpy and easily hollowed out to make a nice tube for carrying arrows once a leather strap was attached.

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These pictures were taken in early January at the Desert Botanical Garden. They bloom in winter and love hot summers. In their native Africa they bloom in June, July or August which is their winter. They also tend to be sparsely watered by rain in winter when actively growing. Because of this be careful not to water much in the summer when it is dormant.

Aloe dichotoma is easily grown from seed and can be grown in a pot indoors until large enough to go outside in the garden, if you live in a dry hot climate. They are a slow grower but not too bad, they can grow 10 to 20 cm a year if happy with their conditions. The Quiver tree can handle a frost but can be damaged in a freeze. pict0003

The cross section of an aloe dichotoma can bee seen in the picture here. The dichotoma is on the right, sitting on top of a cross section of a Mexican Fan Palm – Washintonia robusta. The palm is obviously much denser than the pulpy dichotoma.pict0075

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