Aloe nobilis, golden tooth aloe, or the gold tooth aloe, is often overlooked in favor of other more common varieties of Aloe vera. However, the gold tooth aloe actually produces larger leaves and flowers than its more popular counterpart, and it has even stronger anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties than many other types of aloe.
Whether you’re looking to grow an aloe vera plant as a home remedy or simply to add it to your collection of ornamental plants, Aloe nobilis makes an excellent choice that will leave your friends and family wondering why they never thought to plant one before!
Described by some as a gold tooth aloe, Aloe nobilis has become one of the most popular houseplants in recent years. The origins of this species are unclear, but it’s believed to have originated in Madagascar or southern Africa and was first introduced to the world in 1849 by David Landreth, who used it to make medicine for the American market.
Since then, gold tooth aloe has made its way around the world and into many homes as an easy-to-care-for plant that works well as an accent piece or focal point in any room.
Aloe nobilis, also known as gold tooth aloe, red-toothed aloe, or red-toothed soap aloe, is a perennial subshrub in the genus Aloe found mainly in the southwest of Western Australia.
Although it looks similar to other aloes with its broad elliptical leaves and long flower spikes, Aloe nobilis has gained its name from the striking bright red color of its teeth-like leaf margins. Its vibrant coloring makes it one of the most popular species of aloe worldwide.
Origin and distribution
Native to arid, semi-desert, and desert areas of Africa, including parts of Angola, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. It has also been introduced to Australia and South America. A. nobilis is found in rocky outcrops where it grows in crevices between rocks with minimal water. In its native habitat, it can withstand temperatures ranging from 0°C to 45°C.
However, when grown outside of its natural range, it requires protection from frost. It prefers well-drained soil and will tolerate periods of drought once established. Like many succulents, aloe nobilis is easy to propagate by simply breaking off a leaf tip (or ‘pup’) and inserting it into a growing medium such as coarse sand or potting mix.
Once planted, give your pup plenty of sunlight but avoid over-watering as wet roots are prone to rot. Over time your pup will develop roots and eventually form new plants.
Aloe nobilis propagation
Due to aloe’s extensive care needs, propagation (or obtaining cuttings from a mature plant) is by far one of the easiest ways to begin growing an aloe plant. As with all plants, there are several methods of propagation, but in general, they can be separated into two types: sexual and asexual.
Because most types of aloes reproduce using sex organs known as pollination, asexual propagation is not generally used for most species and will likely be left out of these instructions. However, because gold tooth aloe reproduces through its roots rather than its flowers, it can be propagated both sexually and asexually.
Regardless of which method you choose, you will need to obtain some type of cutting or shoot that has at least three leaves on it—the more leaves it has, the better.
Aloe nobilis care information
A potted plant of Aloe nobilis can stay alive for decades with only a few minutes of maintenance each week. To keep your tooth aloe looking its best, follow these simple steps to provide it with optimal care. Your aloe will thank you!
Aloe nobilis prefers full sun to partial shade. Full sun is best but in areas with hot summers, consider a spot where it will get dappled sunlight during that time of year. Alternatively, use shade cloth or other means to keep direct sunlight off of it in summer.
In winter, give it full sun if possible as aloe needs light to flower and fruit properly. It can take some shade in winter if it’s grown indoors under lights (see below). Aloes are frost tender and must be protected from hard freezes.
Aloe Nobilis loves growing in sandy soil that drains well. Soils that stay too wet for extended periods of time will lead to root rot, which is a serious issue with succulents. It likes regular watering and infrequent fertilizing. If you’re using a potting mix or other soil for your plants, use about one part sand to two parts potting mix.
If you’re mixing your own soils from scratch, add about 1/4 cup of sand per gallon of potting mix (and it’s best if you can find some coarse sand). This species doesn’t like overly rich soils; they tend to make them prone to root rot and other issues.
It’s important to water a healthy aloe plant in order to keep it thriving, but you don’t want to overdo it. A lot of beginners think that when their plant turns black and shriveled, they need to water it more, which is not true.
You should only give your plant a good watering after its soil has dried out completely—this could take days or weeks (depending on how dry your climate is). Watering once per week will be enough for most plants.
You can use household fertilizers for aloe. Slow-release and complete fertilizers are the most popular. These fertilizers will release nutrients slowly, which benefit succulents over a long period of time. Fertilize your plants once every two weeks during active growth, and don’t fertilize in winter months when growth is slow or dormant.
The ideal temperature range for Aloe nobilis is 55-80 °F (13-27 °C) day, and 45-75 °F (7-24 °C) at night. In higher temperatures, it is best to provide a partial shade and keep moist; in lower temperatures, it will require protection from freezing or excessive moisture loss.
Aloe nobilis prefers high humidity and needs to be watered more frequently because water evaporates at a higher rate in a dry environment. If you notice your plant’s leaves are turning brown around their edges or curling up, it is likely suffering from dry air. Be sure to check your plants frequently during winter and early spring, as cold weather often leads to lower humidity levels inside homes and offices.
The ideal humidity range is 40-60% relative humidity. You can measure your home’s humidity with a hygrometer (available at hardware stores) or by using a free smartphone app like Hygrometer for Android or iHygrometer for iPhone. If you find your home’s relative humidity is too low, try adding moisture to your home by running a humidifier or boiling water on your stove and then leaving it in an open container overnight.
No pruning is necessary for aloe nobilis, as it’s a perennial. However, some gardeners prefer to limit its growth by cutting off older leaves and flowers. If you choose to trim your plant, use sharp scissors to avoid damaging young leaves and flowers; when pruning older growth, you can use loppers or a hedge trimmer with care.
Remove dead leaves at any time of year. To help remove dried-out leaves from lower branches, simply pull on them gently; if they don’t come out easily, wait until spring. Older leaves will often drop naturally in early spring after frost has killed them back.
When to repot
If your aloe has outgrown its current pot, take it out of its pot and repot it. This can be done at any time of year; however, you’ll need to water more often if you do so during hot summer months. You’ll also want to check on it regularly since it won’t have as much moisture retention in a smaller pot as it did in a larger one.
As long as your plant is growing vigorously and not showing signs of stress (such as yellowing leaves), you should be fine. Repotting is a great way to refresh your plant, but don’t worry about it too much—it will likely live for many years without needing to be repotted again.
In its natural habitat, aloe nobilis can be dormant for many weeks. This is due to a number of factors including seasonal temperature changes, heavy precipitation, and soil mineral composition.
For example, during cooler months aloe might retreat deeper into its root ball, creating a survival mechanism that conserves moisture and energy by curtailing outward growth.
Although aloe will survive in temperatures as low as -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit), it typically begins to show signs of dormancy when temperatures drop below 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit).
To encourage dormancy, you can prune your plant in late summer or early fall. Pruning also encourages branching and more compact growth.
Gold tooth aloe flower & fragrance
In addition to its medicinal uses, golden tooth aloe flowers are a great source of fragrance for perfumes and incense. However, gold tooth aloes can only be found in southern Africa, which makes them very rare in the world of commercial fragrance trade.
In order to increase market supply, you can use yellow-flowered aloes such as Aloe Africana instead. These don’t possess quite as strong of a fragrance but make for an affordable substitute nonetheless.
This plant is slow-growing and takes 6-7 years to reach maturity. However, when it does, it can grow up to 10 feet in height! This aloe species, like others in its genus, grows a stem with a swollen base called a caudex.
It also likes sunny spaces and should be kept outdoors most of the year and brought indoors during cold months. Because of its slow growth, gold tooth aloes are perfect for large landscapes or as accent plants in your garden!
As with many aloes, aloe nobilis is highly toxic if ingested. Always consider children and pets while working with or planting around aloes. Keep all parts of aloe plants out of reach of small hands and paws at all times.
USDA hardiness zones
Aloe nobilis thrives in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12. In colder climates, it can be grown as a houseplant or potted plant.
Pests and diseases
Sooty mold and powdery mildew are common pests of Aloe nobilis. Like many succulents, aloes are susceptible to mealybugs and occasionally scale insects. Also watch for slugs, snails, and cats or dogs that like to snack on aloes in your garden. Disbudding plants at their early stages can help prevent some of these issues from cropping up later on.
This rare species of aloe is part of a group of plants known as Ranunculaceae, and it is also sometimes referred to as Gold Tooth aloe. It gets its name from its distinctive golden yellow teeth at both ends of its leaves, which were used in traditional medicine in Africa to treat stomach ailments, ulcers, burns, and wounds.
Due to over-harvesting and slow growth rates, Aloe nobilis is listed as an endangered plant by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). This makes international trade illegal.
In addition, while Aloe nobilis was once found across much of southern Africa, today there are only two known populations left in South Africa and Swaziland. However, there are some conservation efforts underway that may help protect these populations and keep them from going extinct entirely.