Sunday, April 10, 2011

Question for the Hive Mind: Aloe nobilis

I'm wondering if anyone can tell me what's going on here. I'm not sure how to describe it, but fortunately there are pictures.

The plant is the Aloe nobilis I got from Lowe's about a month ago. It's been growing well, and has put on maybe three or four new leaves since it got here. However, the back of one leaf, and parts of the margins of two others, are doing this:

One back, one margin.

The same leaf as in the center of the first picture, viewed from the side.

Extreme close-up of the margin.

When I first saw this, my first thought was maybe Aloe mites, which I knew about only from having read all of Geoff Stein's articles on a while ago (also Dee at A Desert Observer has written about Aloe mites), but when I looked at the photos, I didn't see anything that looked like my plant -- those were mostly singular, rounded, cauliflower-like growths on one particular spot, not streaks of slightly-bumpy stuff.

So my best guess at the moment is aloe mites, but 1) I thought I should get a second opinion, and 2) if it is aloe mites, I'm wondering what I should do about it. I have imidacloprid and a sharp knife, if that helps, and I also have the receipt, so I could take it back to Lowe's for a refund if it's best not to even try messing with this. Recommendations?

UPDATE: I'm getting increasingly certain that this is an aloe mite infestation. First, after much wading through pages about how people can use Aloe vera to treat edema on human and animal body parts, I found a picture of edema on Aloe dichotoma, which presents as irregularly-shaped, slightly sunken, brown to tan patches. My plant has been wet, because it's in peaty soil that I haven't removed yet, but what my plant has doesn't look like Aloe edema, insofar as I can figure out what Aloe edema looks like.

Second, I found an eleven-month-old post at Garden Web, in a thread about an aloe-mite-infested plant that was being sold at Home Depot, in which a representative of Altman's, the wholesale supplier who sold the plant in question to HD (and also the producer of my plant, though I bought mine at Lowe's), showed up to say that 1) obviously Altman's would never knowingly send out a plant infested with aloe mites, and 2) it's sort of an ongoing problem for them because aloe mites are now part of the natural environment where they grow their plants and can wander into the production area, 3) sometimes Altman's plants catch mites from other, non-Altman's, plants in the garden centers where they're being sold, and 4) they're working hard to come up with a way to prevent infestations but aren't there yet.

These all seem like valid points (#3 is maybe only valid-ish), and I'm sure the people at Altman's are as nice and conscientious as any other similarly-sized group of people, but 1) I'm returning the plant to Lowe's on Monday and 2) it's going to be a long time before I feel comfortable buying an Aloe, Gasteria, or Haworthia (which also get aloe mites, BTW) from Lowe's again.


Melissa said...

My first thought was that those portions were touching the soil. Every so often my soil gets little orange coloring on top and almost looks like what you have on the Aloe. Wish I could help more but will be watching for an answer

CelticRose said...

I'm having trouble seeing what's going on from those pictures, even after opening in a new tab, but it sort of looks like the leaf has split and sap has leaked out and dried. If that's the case, then my guess is overwatering caused the splitting.

Tom said...

If it is mites imidicloprid won't do any good for it. Imidicloprid does nothing for arachnids. I don't know why but it kind of looks like some sort of edema or a mutation of some sort.

Shaeden-kun said...

An Aloe ferox I bought from Lowe's several months ago. I had also suspected Aloe mites, but never could figure out what it really was.

daphne said...

The first pic, especially, reminds me of some army "health and hygiene" films, if you know what I mean. Have you talked to your aloe about unprotected pollination?

mr_subjunctive said...


I've only had it a month; I thought it was still too young for "the talk."

Steve Asbell said...

My aloe "crosby's prolific" had that same issue when I bought it, but it has since disappeared. I suppose that's good news?

Tom said...

That update is good to know. Not that I've been buying a lot of cacti from Home Depot but I'm definitely going to think twice now.

AlexZander said...

When I saw the pictures the first time I have thought about a plant cancer. Mostly they are caused by fungus, bacteria or insects. After searching for special diseases on aloe plants I found that there is a mite (Aceria aloinis) that can cause these phenotype changes (abnormal cells named galls on the leaves. Here a link to a german blog that has good pictures of them

There are some reports about a successful healing when you apply pesticides on the spots were the galls are visible, but the problem is that it the mites are living inside the plant tissue. Thus it is really difficult to get rid of them. Mostly you should eliminate the plant by burning them or throwing them into the garbage. Then the mites can not reproduce.

Sentient Meat said...

That looks like a mite infestation to me, but I'm no expert. (I do grow about 50 different Aloe spp. but I have not mastered diagnosing and treating the different problems that can arise.)

The growth distortion from mites can take many forms, depending especially on whether they have attacked the growth points (here it seems not).

I still buy Altman's succulents from Home Depot -- it's hard to beat the prices and sometimes they distribute plants that heretofore were hard to find. But it is true that occasionally the plants pick up problems either at the grower's or somewhere along the way. High-density, high-volume production methods are prone to pests. (Mr Subj knows better than I... Heck, as we know, home growing is prone to pests, too.)

If this were a prized plant, you could look for ways to excise the problem and hope for the best, but in this case I'd return the plant or discard it.

Aloe nobilis is a great little plant, but it is common as dirt.

themanicgardener said...

At what point do you consider your plants ready for "the talk"? Just wondering.

The Old World Order Advocate said...

Why don't you try an alternative remedy? I have tremendous success treating both humans and rescue dogs with tinctures for a variety of things from fungus, to yeast, bacteria and mites. Tea Tree oil diluted with olive oil would be my first test. (10 drops per tablespoon oil.) It works great for demodex mites on dogs. Second is colloidal silver 500 ppm or 250 ppm from Silver Wings natural path. This "reconstituted" form of silver even kills viruses. Yes, i have diluted it greatly for purposes such as eye abrasions (4 drops per ounce of distilled water) and for ringworm (straight up.)

mr_subjunctive said...

The Old World Order Advocate:

The main reason I can't try an alternative remedy is that the plant was returned to the store two years ago.