The aloe vera plant family is as ancient as the human civilization. Although it was originally grown in Africa, it can be found across the world due to its versatility. The aloe vera genus of plants has more than 200 species. 13 types of aloe vera are considered really beneficial for human consumption. Its excellent antiseptic and cosmetic properties combined with its high nutritional value has made it very essential to mankind.
A visual way of classifying the aloe family is by differentiating them based on the stem structure.1
The Three Groups Of Aloe Vera
This group contains plants without stems and have short, succulent and thick leaves arranged in a rosette-like manner. The most common aloe vera (aloe barbadensis miller) belongs to this group and so do aloe saponaria and aloe aristata.
Aloe barbadensis miller
This type of aloe is frequently spotted in gardens, parks, and forests across the world. This stemless plant can grow up to 60-100 cm. The fleshy, thick leaves have serrated margins and are filled with gel. Flowering is noticed only in summer and the
Aloe aristata is also known as ‘lace aloe’ and looks similar to Aloe vera except for its unique white speckles. When in bloom, large orange flowers appear that are irresistible for birds and insects. It requires only little effort to cultivate and hence it is the right choice for gardens.
Known as ‘soap aloe’, due to the soapy nature of its gel, its unique feature is the ability to produce pollen in the presence of smoke. It can thrive in arid and dry climate due to its resilient nature. An infusion of the gel from the plant is used to treat conjunctivitis, boils, sores, bruises, and rheumatic joints.3
The members of this group have a short and visible trunk. Aloe succotrina and aloe
Often spotted in the Mediterranean climate, aloe succotrina grows in cluster of at least 1-2 meters in diameter. It blooms in winter and gives rise to fiery red shaded flowers. For centuries, it’s been used as a remedy for healing intestinal irritation and stomach ulcers.4
Chinensis is a popular variety of aloe plant which grows up to a height of 60cm when mature. It can even grow in cold wintry weather and requires very less maintenance.
This group of aloe consists of tall plants with woody trunks and branches like aloe ferox and aloe arborescens.
Also known as ‘cape aloe’ or ‘tap aloe,’ the aloe ferox can easily reach up to 10ft in height. Its extracts have unique laxative properties are often given as a remedy for constipation.5The seeds of
One of the tallest growing aloe varieties, aloe arborescens can grow up to 10ft in height. You could spot them with their extremely bright orange-red flowers. Its wound-healing properties and antiseptic effect are well-known.7
In addition to its wonderful health benefits, aloe vera needs minimal attention. This makes it perfect to be a part of your home. So, go ahead, and get your very own aloe plant. You won’t regret it.
|↑1||Bassetti, Alessandro.Sala,Stefano . THE GREAT ALOE BOOK. ZUCCARI EDITIONS. 2005|
|↑2||Surjushe, Amar, Resham Vasani, and D. G. Saple. “Aloe vera: A short review.” Indian journal of dermatology 53, no. 4 (2008): 163.|
|↑3||Schmelzer, Gaby H.Schmelzer, Gabriella Harriet. Gurib-Fakim, Ameenah. Medicinal Plants, Volume 1. Prota, 2008|
|↑4||Various Authors. The Amazing Ancient to Modern Useful Plant Aloe Vera. Health Research Books,1990|
|↑5||Wintola, Olubunmi A., Taofik O. Sunmonu, and Anthony J. Afolayan. “The effect of Aloe ferox Mill. in the treatment of loperamide-induced constipation in Wistar rats.” BMC gastroenterology 10, no. 1 (2010): 95.|
|↑6||Dangarembizi, Rachael, Eliton Chivandi, and Kennedy Erlwanger. “Aloe ferox seed: a potential source of oil for cosmetic and pharmaceutical use.” Natural product communications 8, no. 3 (2013): 411-414.|
|↑7||Jia, Yimei, Guodong Zhao, and Jicheng Jia. “Preliminary evaluation: the effects of Aloe ferox Miller and Aloe arborescens Miller on wound healing.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 120, no. 2 (2008): 181-189.|