Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f.
Aloe barbadensis Mill.
Aloe perfoliata L. var. vera L.
Aloe vulgaris Lam.
Aloe vera, medicinal aloe, Barbados aloe
Aloe vera has been known and cultivated for so long that its original native range is uncertain. A few minutes of searching turned up the Arabian penninsula, or northern Africa, or southern Africa, or maybe Madagascar; or all of the above.
Identification: Like the other 450 members of the genus, Aloe vera is a succulent, meaning that it stores water in the form of a gel in its thick, waxy leaves. It has a short stem, with leaves clustered in a rosette around near the base of the plant. They are grayish green, up to 20" (50 cm) long, with pinkish margins and small spines along the leaf edges. Leaves are semi-circular in cross-section, and taper to sharp tips. Younger leaves may be speckled with small white spots. Flowers are yellow cylindrical racemes 10-14" (25-35 cm) long, composed of many tubular flowers up to 1" (3 cm) long. The anthers and stamen protrude from the flowers. See the Aloe comparison table.
Medical: Aloe vera has been valued for thousands of years for its medicinal properties, though studies sometimes produce conflicting results. The PDR for Herbal Medicines cites a long list of clinical studies of this species, evaluating its possible antibacterial/antiviral, anti-inflammatory, laxative properties; and treatment for acne, constipation, herpes simplex, irritable bowel syndrome, radiation-induced dermatitis, ulcerative colitis, leg ulcers, pressure ulcers, sunburn, vitamin absorption, and wound healing. See Candace Osmond’s Backyard Boss article The Best Things to Know About the Aloe Vera Plant for a readable and nicely done overview of this species’ health and culinary benefits.
The gel-like sap is used to treat minor burns and wounds, and may have application in the treatment of diabetes and elevated blood lipids. There are many other uses as well. It is not recommended to extract the gel directly, since other substances in the plant can cause a contact dermatitis.
Edibility: The leaf interiors are edible when cooked.
Aloe vera f. on luirig.altervista.org
Aloe vera f. on Wikipedia
Aloe vera f. on nccih.nih.gov
Aloe vera f. on Desert-tropicals.com
Aloe vera f. at the University of Maryland Medical Center
Aloe vera f. on BioLib.cz
Aloe vera f. on eFloras
Aloe vera f. description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.
Range: Zones 9-10: