This Aloe’s leaves are thick and fleshy, arranged in rosettes, and have reddish-brown spines on the margins with smaller spines on the upper and lower surfaces. The leaf surfaces of young plants are covered in spines, however, as they get taller and less vulnerable to grazing, the leaves begin to lose most of their spines except for those along the leaf margins.
Its flowers are orange or red, and stand between 2 and 4 feet (0.61 and 1.22 m) above the leaves, in multi-branched inflorescences.
This aloe is frequently confused with the related Aloe excelsa species, to the north, and they do look very similar when fully grown. However the flowers are different, with the racemes of Aloe excelsa being far shorter and slightly curved.