Winter warmth - Aloe arborescens in flower

Aloe arborescens is an impressive sprawling succulent plant which thrives in difficult locations, here covering steep banks on Oriental Parade in Wellington, beside the harbour and close to the central city.  It is also known as Torch Aloe.  The massed upright racemes of tubular orange-red flowers do seem to glow in the winter sun, and are somewhat like a dense array of torches.

In addition to providing a warming sight, the flowers provide a rich source of nectar and pollen for birds and insects - some tui were feeding on these ones, but I didn't catch any this time with my camera.

Originally from southern Africa, this aloe is a very successful plant here in Wellington.  The rosettes of spiny bluish green leaves create a dense cover and an "architectural" display.  They store water and resist desiccation by our harsh winds.  They are also fearsome enough to have been used to create protective hedges around kraals - enclosures for domestic stock. The tooth-shaped spines on the leaves are actually not very sharp but the branching spreading plant is a rather dense tangled profusion, a good protective barrier.  And the racemes (flower spikes), provide a long lasting display as the individual flowers open progressively upwards.  A glorious but also pretty messy profusion, a very attractive winter sight.

The pestiferous (and also non-native to New Zealand) wasps agreed, alas.