Sunday, July 23, 2017
Aloe The Medicinal Plant
The Aloe group has over 300 different varieties. All varying in size and shape. Most are natives of Africa, especially South Africa and Madagascar.
Aloe plants contain a thick fluid which seeps through if the plant is damaged. This sap is tapped from the plant, dried and sold and used as medicine for all over health.
Many of the Aloe varieties grown as house plants are were used in former times as well as today, for first aid. A piece of the plant was stroked across a cut or burn to speed up the healing process.
Aloe plants have come into the limelight for beauty aids containing sap from the plant. It may benefit poor skin and improve the complexion in general. Aloe is said to help the skin retain its natural moisture.
A Member of the Liliaceae Family
Aloe belongs to the Lily family but looks much like Agave, sometimes called "American Aloe." The two plants are botanically distinct, however, Aloe flowers, unlike those of the Agave, are bell shaped, in shade of yellow or orange red, and perch on the ends of long, slim stems. Another difference is that Aloe leaves can be snapped to reveal a juicy pulp. The stong-fibered Agave leaves do not easily break.
Size and Growth Rate
Some Aloes have an upright growth and stem while others have a rosette shape and spread through side shoots which gradually form a carpet of small tufts. Many Aloes have sharp thorns along the edges of the leaves. Some grow as high as 60 feet in the wild and other are very low growing.
Flowering and Fragrance
The flower stems grow up from beside the rosette of leaves. The flowers are bell-like and yellow or orange-red. Large varieties have flower stems several feet tall while others will be only 4-8 inches. Most of the flowers have a faint but pleasant fragrance. At spring time when all the Aloe are in bloom humming birds fly in to get nectar.
Light and Temperature
Lots of light and lots of sun. Regular all-year room temperature is fine but a lower winter temperature, about 60 degrees is recommended, Avoid frosts. Zone 8-10 hardiness.
Watering and Feeding
Water well in the summer but let the soil dry out in between. Water infrequent in the winter or not at all.