This is an Aloe an old friend of mine grew and gave me. It is a Soap Aloe, botanically identified as Aloe saponaria by the The University of Florida. Other sources call it Aloe maculata, saponaria makes more sense to me. Saponia being the usual latin word associated with soapy plants. This particular plant is nearly 2 and a half feet wide and the bloom stalk is 4 feet tall. Pretty interesting.
A fine drought tolerant succulent its original home was South Africa. It is adapting nicely to South Florida. I find that mine blooms quarterly just like paying estimated taxes. It somehow knows it is April 15th and someone at the IRS is feeling happy because of its orange flowers.
I have noticed it has a bubbly juice when trimming off the old leaves. Theoretically, this can be used as a soap substitute. However, upon doing a bit of research I found that the soapy substance also causes contact dermatitis in some people. For the time being I am going to stay with the store bought soap.
In my searching I also found that this can be used as a groundcover; I will have to say this stretches my concept of groundcover. It is spreading in my Rock Garden and I have seen quite a few large clumps of its relative Candelabra Aloe (Aloe arborescens) in my neighborhood. The Candelabra is similar but only has one spike for a flower as opposed to more of a chandelier effect from the Soap Aloe. The Candelabras foliage is narrower as well. It should be noted that these Aloes are all decorated with sharp spines, so don’t plant them near a walkway or under the swing set. Unless you want to keep people away.