The plant grows slowly and flowers when it is four to five years old. Flowering time is from winter to early spring (July to September in South Africa). Its large raceme is erect and may be unbranched or have up to four branches, and has tubular flowers that are orange or yellow.
Uniquely, the small flowers are each up-turned, with a distinctive bend. As this aloe species can sometimes look very similar to related species (e.g. Aloe excelsa, Aloe lineata or Aloe ferox), this feature is useful for identification.
The thin, narrow leaves are more messy or disorderly than the neat symmetrical rosettes of other arborescent Aloe species. The leaves are also more recurved.
They are arranged in a dense apical rosette and are spreading to recurved, firm linear-lanceolate, with a grey-green surface; each leaf's margins and lower side are armed with lines of small, reddish teeth, a feature common in the genus Aloe.
The distinguishing features of this species therefore include: yellow-orange flowers that are bent to almost 90 degrees; racemes that are large, tall and tapering to a point; narrow spreading or recurved leaves, arranged in a relatively untidy rosette.