Aloe (Aloe vera)
Aloe comes from tropical Africa. Related species are used as an antidote to arrow poison, but we value the plant for its healing effect on burns, wounds and insect bites.
Aloe is a succulent, and grows to a height of 12 to 16 inches. It has a fibrous root system producing long, tapering, stemless leaves. These light green leaves have spiky margins and are blotched with cream. The firm upright stems bear several bell-shaped, fleshy, yellow-orange flowers.
Propagate from small, rooted offshoots at the base of the parent plant. It may be grown from seed. It prefers a rough, gritty growing medium and a well-drained, sunny location. It will also grow in partial shade. Aloe needs temperatures above 40 degrees, and is grown indoors in cooler climates. When grown indoors the offshoots can be removed and repotted when they are a few inches tall. Do not overwater.
Cut the leaves as required.
Keep a pot of Aloe vera on you kitchen windowsill for handy access. The fresh juice of the leaf blades can be applied directly to ulcers, burns, sunburn, and fungal infection.
Aloe-emodin, an ingredient in aloe, is a powerful laxative and should always be used with caution. It can be combined with atinctureof caraway seed to prevent intestinal cramps and pain. Taken in small doses, it is an excellent digestive tonic.