Of all the plants that are supposed to have magical properties Aloe Vera must surely come top of the list. Known as the “plant of immortality” by the Ancient Egyptians the plant has been prized for its healing properties over the centuries. Today it is found in many lotions and ointments for treating minor ailments. Yet is is also toxic if used inappropriately. Geoff Stein explores some of these mysteries in his article which I found over on Dave’s Garden website.
I have been growing aloes for years now but am still fascinated with the world’s focus on this single species as something miraculous. Is this really a singularly amazing, healing species or is there a lot of overstated benefits of this plant? And why is Aloe vera also on most toxic plant lists, if it is such a great healing plant? And what of the other species- do they have beneficial properties as well? For the answers to some of these questions, read on.
Though the plant, Aloe vera (aka Aloe barbadensis) is not one of the more interesting or beautiful of the Aloes, it is still a decent landscape plant, as well as one of the best indoors aloes there are.The only reason I have one in my collection is so the person who insists on chopping off all my aloe leaves in the front yard (an ongoing but unsolved crime for the last 5 years I have lived here) can at least have one plant that I do not care if he/she hacks off its leaves? and perhaps they will someday learn that THAT is the plant they are really looking for and all my other plants will either poison them or give them a rash so bad, they will stay away for a long time.I guess to some, all aloes look alike.
Aloe succotrina (left) butchered nearly weekly by some unknown neighbor- note the cut edges are purple- the is an identifying characgterisic of this and several other species of aloe (Aloe vera does not have purple cut edges); right is an Aloe pluridens the neighbor eventually hacked to death removing all the leaves, presumably for the ‘magical effect’ of the aloe leaves, perhaps thinking this was a form of Aloe vera…? I have no idea if Aloe pluridens has any of the same properties as Aloe vera, personally.
Two examples of large aloes that are actually trees, for those not aware of the existence of other Aloe species- Aloe barberae (left)- a humongous tree, and Aloe dichotoma (right) and nice, stately tree as well
See more at Dave’s Garden