What Is Aloe?

Overview

Aloe vera is a plant that grows well indoors and in really hot environments. They are also popular because of their resistance to pests and animals that might want to chew on them. However, aloe vera is mostly known for the positive medicinal effects the plant has when applied topically to wounds and itches.

Identification

Aloe is a plant that is most commonly used for its medicinal properties, which are highly accepted and used in commercial products. Aloe is also known as true aloe, medicine plant, burn plant and Barbados aloe. The aloe plant is scientifically known as aloe vera. This plant is distinct from other plants in the aloe family. The plant is very leafy, with long and spear-like blades of pale-green leaves stretching out in all directions and bending slightly. The aloe vera plant leaves have white spots. Union County College points out that these plants can reach two feet in length. On the edges of the leaves are soft spines.

History

The aloe is related to tulips, lilies and asparagus. Since aloe vera has spread throughout the world, no one knows where the original aloe vera plants came from, though, according to the Union County College, aloe vera most likely originated in the Mediterranean. Some believe that the aloe vera is actually an ancient hybrid.

Geography

The aloe vera grows in hot regions and need well-drained soil so that the roots are oxygenated enough. These plants are used to dry areas and should not be over-watered. They can make good house plants as long as they are placed in locations that are exposed to enough light, which makes them ideal on sunny windowsills.

Function

The aloe vera has been used for its medicinal properties for 2,000 years. The leaves of the aloe vera has traditionally been sliced and placed on itchy surfaces and also used to treat burn wounds. The aloe vera is also used to make tea that can be used to wash wounds and itcying, burning eyes. In addition to burns, Salisbury University states that aloe vera helps speed up wound healing, decreases psoriasis, soothes sore muscles, cures cold sores and acts as a laxative.

Warning

Aloe vera, when applied topically, can cause dermatitis, according to Salisbury University. When ingested, aloe vera can cause diarrhea, cramping or fluid and electrolyte imbalances. For those growing aloe vera, the University of California explained that the spines on the edges of the leaves can hurt the mouths of animals that try to chew on the leaves. A substance the plant exudes, called aloe bitters, helps keep away smaller animals and insects.

Keywords: aloe vera, aloe plant, medicinal aloe, burn plant, true aloe

About this Author

Charles Pearson has written as a freelancer for two years. He has a B.S. in Literature from Purdue University Calumet and is currently working on his M.A. He has written three ebooks so far: Karate You Can Teach Your Kids, Macadamia Growing Handout and The Raw Food Diet.