Aloe maculata (Seepaalwyn, Soap Aloe, Icena) has a wide range of uses in traditional medicine for both people and animals. It is also edible and is a good addition to any eco-garden.
Aloe maculata Monograph
This monograph contains details of Aloe maculata 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.Aloe maculata. Credit: Blooming Succulents
Traditional Medicinal Uses of Aloe maculata
Administered to people: Cold crushed leaf infusions are administered as enemas after other purgative medicines have been taken. Powdered flower infusions are administered orally or as enemas to children with feverish colds. Stems and leaves are used as emetics when narcotic substances have been absorbed and powdered root and stem infusions are taken for discomfort from too much food or alcohol. Roots are used to treat skin disorders internally while powder from the plant, boiled with the fat of a pig or sheep, is used in ointments applied to sores, pimples and skin lesions. (Hutchings et.al.)
Leaves are used in various parts of Africa for treating wounds, blisters, sores and ringworm. (Hutchings et.al.)
Purgative effects are reported. (Hutchings et.al.)
Administered to animals: Cold leaf infusions are used for ‘blood scours’ in calves and for enteritis and indigestion in poultry. (Hutchings et.al.)
Edible: Eaten by the Zulus in times of famine. It is cooked and the first water for cooking is discarded to lessen the bitter taste. (Fox and Norwood Young)
Other Uses: The sap from the leaves is said to be used by people of various cultures as a substitute for soap.
Aloe maculata is a hardy small Aloe. It is normally stemless. The broad, triangular, recurved leaves have strong, sharp teeth along the margin. They are covered in white spots and the tips become dry and shrivelled with age. It produces flowering heads of distinctively flat-topped racemes. Aloe maculata attracts sunbirds when in flower and is an excellent addition to any garden. (Wildflower Nursery)
Flower colour ranges from yellow and red to orange. Flowering time is variable, and various forms may flower in summer (January), winter (June) or spring (August, September). (PlantZAfrica)
Growing Aloe maculata
The slow-growing soap aloe provides an excellent focal point for a rockery garden and should be planted in well-drained soil mixed with compost. Propagate it from seed sown in a good seedling mix.
Habitat and Ecology
Highly variable. Occurs mostly in grassland, from sea level to high altitude alpine flora in the Drakensberg. Also often found in rocky outcrops and thicket vegetation. Major habitats: Albany Thicket, Fynbos, Grassland. (von Staden)
Extremely widespread and common in South Africa, ranging from the Cape Peninsula along the Western Cape south coast to the Eastern Cape, where it also occurs further inland in the northern parts of the Eastern Cape to the Drakensberg foothills. It is also found on the highlands of Lesotho and the Free State but does not occur on the highest peaks of the Drakensberg Escarpment. In KwaZulu-Natal, the range extends along the Drakensberg foothills and through the Midlands northwards to southern Mpumalanga. Aloe maculata also occurs in the Inyanga district in Zimbabwe. (von Staden)
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.
Fox, F.W., Norwood Young, M.E. (1982). Food From The Veld. Edible Wild Plants of southern Africa. Delta Books, Craighall.
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-maculata. Accessed on 2020/01/
von Staden, L. 2008. Aloe maculata All. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. Accessed on 2020/01/06
Wildflower Nursery – https://wildflowernursery.co.za/indigenous-plant-database/aloe-maculata/. Accessed on 2020/01/06