Aloe cooperi subsp. cooperi (Grasaalwyn, Grass Aloe) is used for people in traditional medicine, eaten as a food, and for cattle in a magical sense. It is a good addition to a eco-garden.
Aloe cooperi subsp. cooperi Monograph
This monograph contains details of Aloe cooperi subsp. cooperi as per the references cited below. If you can provide any additional information, photos or reliable records, or spot any errors, please leave a comment below or in The Muthi Flora of southern Africa Facebook group.
Traditional Medicinal Uses of Aloe cooperi subsp. cooperi
Administered to people. Roots are an ingredient in inembe, an infusion taken during pregnancy to ensure an easy delivery. It is only used from the eight-month as earlier use in pregnancy may cause abortions or miscarriage.
Applied in a magical sense for animals. Smoke from the burning leaves is used to protect cattle from the ill effects of eating improper food.
Edible. Young shoots and flowers are cooked and eaten as vegetables by the Zulu people.
Aloe cooperi subsp. cooperi is a very hardy, stemless Aloe with long, narrow, yellow-green leaves that are arranged in a fan shape and distinctively keeled with white spots beneath. It grows solitary or in small groups and grows in marshy places. It is also very frost tolerant. Aloe cooperi subsp. cooperi is a lovely garden plant and a beautiful addition to a grassland garden or marsh area. (Wildflower Nursery)
Grass Aloe also attracts nectar-feeding birds such as sunbirds and makes a striking addition to a flower bed. (Plantzafrica)
Growing Aloe cooperi subsp. cooperi
Aloe cooperi subsp. cooperi grows well in cultivation. In warm areas, the leaves remain evergreen but in cold climates, they die back in winter and for this reason, it is also regarded as a good Waterwise garden plant as it needs no watering in winter. (Plantzafrica)
Propagate Aloe cooperi subsp. cooperi from seed sown in a seedling growth media mixture of sifted potting soil and river sand (1:1). Treat the seed mixture with fungicides to prevent damping-off which is a common problem when growing aloes from seed. Seedlings should be planted in small pots using sandy well-drained soil. (Plantzafrica)
Habitat and Ecology
Major habitats: Grassland. Occupies a wide variety of habitats in grasslands, from marshy areas to dry and well-drained, often wedges in shallow pockets among rocks, but also on hillsides in open grasslands.
Although this species is relatively widespread, grassland habitats are impacted by human transformation across its range. In many areas of KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo grasslands have been extensively transformed to commercial forestry plantations. In many of these afforested areas, A. cooperi is declining as a result of habitat degradation due to alien invasions (von Staden 2014).
Agriculture has also lead to widespread losses of habitat. In southern KwaZulu-Natal, vast areas of grassland have been converted to sugarcane plantations, no doubt resulting in declines of A. cooperi in this area. Overgrazing in northern KwaZulu-Natal and Sekhukhuneland is also impacting on A. cooperi where the small plants are easily trampled by livestock where they grow in open grasslands. On the top of the Leolo Mountains, which is severely impacted by overgrazing, individuals can only be found wedged among large boulders where they are safe from trampling (von Staden 2014).
Arnold. T.H., Prentice, C.A., Hawker, L.C., Snyman, E.E., Tomalin, M., Crouch, N.R. and Pottas-Bircher, C. (2002). Medicinal and magical plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 13. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
Hutchings, A., Scott, A.H., Lewis, G., Cunnigham, A.B., (1996). Zulu Medicinal Plants: an inventory. University of Natal
PlantZAfrica – http://pza.sanbi.org/aloe-cooperi/. Accessed on 2020/01/04
von Staden, L. 2014. Aloe cooperi Baker. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. Accessed on 2020/01/04
Wildflower Nursery – https://wildflowernursery.co.za/indigenous-plant-database/aloe-cooperii/. Accessed on 2020/01/04