Wednesday, September 30, 2015


 (Aloe vera or Aloe barbadensis)
Commonly called “the burn plant”, aloe is native to Africa and is also known as “lily of the desert, the “plant of immortality”, and the “medicine plant”.  This high-sulfur member of the garlic family dates back 6,000 years, and has been well used by numerous cultures.  Egyptians used it in embalming, Alexander the Great carried the plant into battle to treat wounded soldiers, two of the most famous women in history, Cleopatra and Josephine, used it as one of their most important beauty secrets, and Columbus even carried it on board his ships during his ocean voyages.  It is so popular today that it is commercially cultivated in the United States, Japan, and countries in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.  Many individuals also grow it as a houseplant.
Aloe is a semitropical succulent – the plant is about 96% water! – with thick, fleshy blades with spiny teeth on the margins that range in size from one inch miniatures to 12-16 inch plants.  The sap is a thick, mucilaginous gel.  Older specimens (2-3 years) may bloom in mid-summer, producing a tall stock of coral colored flowers with nectar that is a favorite of hummingbirds.   It has a fibrous, shallow, spreading root system, so a wide planter is the best choice for container growing although in zones 10-11, it may be grown outdoors.  Aloe needs temperatures above 40 degrees as well as filtered light since their leaves turn brown when fully exposed to sun.  It is easiest to propagate by removing the offsets which form around the base of mature plants, but it can also be grown from seed.
The medicinal properties of Aloe have been known, and recorded since Biblical times.  It is used to soothe and heal skin conditions of all kinds: burns, including sunburn and radiation burns, insect bites, cuts, scratches, itchy irritated skin conditions, wounds and wrinkles.  Aloe is great for avoiding scarring after reconstruction and facial surgery.  It is also used to relieve fleabites on pets.  The clear gel puts a protective coating on an affected area, stimulating cell growth and speeding up the healing rate.  When you need to use it, just remove a lower leaf from the plant, slice it open, and apply the gel on the affected area.  Aloe also aids in keeping the skin supple and has been used in the control of acne and eczema.  It is one of the most widely used ingredients in skin care products and is also found in thousands of products for hair and overall beauty.

Plants may bloom after 2-3yrs,
producing a tall stock covered with bright colored coral flowers

Aloe flower nectar is a favorite of hummingbirds!
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters
Psalm 24:1-2

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