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This aloe looks scary, but it’s a garden star

This is the latest installment in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “40 Plants You (Probably) Have Never Heard of – But Will Love,” 40 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well-adapted to our region but hard to find.

Gold Tooth aloe

Aloe x spinosissima

Size: Clumps up to 3 feet tall and wide

Exposure: Full sun to partial shade

Bloom season: Showy orange-red flower spikes in late winter

Pruning needs: None; remove spent flower spikes as desired.

Water needs: Very low; once established, water once or twice a month.

Snapshot: This succulent hybrid is just the right size for most gardens. Compared to other aloes, this hybrid stays manageable in proportions while providing bright winter color and eye-catching accents in dry gardens. The name Aloe x spinosissima suggests something ferociously spiny, but the golden teeth that line the leaf margins – and give this aloe its nickname – are not very large or sharp. New rosettes grow from the base of the old ones, forming an attractive clump.

▪ For more on 40 Plants, click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu. Don’t miss today’s Friends of the Arboretum members-only plant sale at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery for a first opportunity to buy these water-wise garden stars.

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