Aloe arborescens is a multi-stemmed aloe with thick, yellow-green leaves. The leaves are usually sharply toothed on the margins and are very juicy with a yellowish, slimy sap. The sap has been used to treat stomach ailments for many centuries. The leaves also store water to enable the plant to survive drought. One to four dense spikes of coral red flowers appear from May to July. The flowers are carried on stout stems and are more or less tubular in shape. Most aloes are important foodplants for sunbirds which visit the flowers in search of nectar and in the process pollinate them.
As the name implies the Krantz Aloe grows mostly on cliffs and rocks – but it is also found in dense bush areas. It is one of the few Aloe species that is found on the coast and in the mountains and is widely distributed across South Africa into Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
The bitter juice of the Aloe leaf was only used by tribal people to cure a variety of ills, but over the past decades western medicine is discovering the healing properties of the Aloe plant. The healing powers of the plant really came to the fore after the atomic bombs of WWII when burn victims were treated with Aloe concoctions.