Aloe vera

Accession Count: 483
Common Name: aloe vera
    • Select which
      accessions to find:

Family Name: Xanthorrhoeaceae
Botanical Name: Aloe vera
Botanical Synonyms: Aloe barbadensis
Sub Species:
Aloe vera is a stoloniferous xerophytic aloe that grows upright with a stiff rosette. These aloes can grow up to 3 feet tall. It is a short-stemmed succulent with pale grayish-green fleshy leaves that grow up to 18 inches long (1,2). These leaf margins contain white teeth. Flowering occurs in the summer when the plant is mature. The flower stalk rises as much as 3 feet high, forming a with closely spaced, yellow, tubular flowers that point downward. Following pollination, the flower produces a fruit containing many seeds (3,4).
Compound: Alo ver
Geographic Origin: Mediterranean
Ecozone Origin: Afrotropic
Biome Origin: Desert
Natural History: Aloe vera has been cultivated throughout history and in many parts of theThe primary reason for its popularity was its medicinal uses (see ethnobotany section). The first known English reference to aloe vera was in 1655 A.D. from a translation from 'Dioscorides' Medical treatise De Materia Medica (5). However, this plant has been around and been used for many years prior to this date 6,000-year-old carvings have been discovered in the aloe vera (6,7). This plant was also offered as a burial gift to the dead pharaohs. The plant has also been cited on a tablet from the Sumerians from 2100 B.C. Later, around 2,000 years ago, a Greek scientist regarded aloe as the panacea (a solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases) (6). The first detailed discussion of aloe's medicinal properties was in 1550 B.C. (6). Alexander the Great and Christopher Columbus used it to treat soldiers' wounds. This plant has been in everyday life for thousands of years and is the earliest plant in recording to be used medicinally, and is the most effective of medicinal plants (5,6,7). This aloe grows in the driest parts of Africa, Asia, America, and Europe. The word aloe vera comes from an Arabic and Latin background. Aloe is derived from the Arabic word 'alloeh', meaning shining bitter substance. The word vera is Latin, however, meaning true. These are derived from the aloe vera's look (7). Historically the native Americans have called the aloe plant the wand of heaven (7).
Cultivation Notes: Aloe vera is a succulent, meaning the plant favors dry conditions to allow the plant to store water. The plant favors full sun to partial sun and is better suited for warmer conditions. Aloe vera reproduces through the root system, meaning young Aloe vera plants will appear around the base of the plant. Aloe vera can be grown indoors or outdoors with enough sunlight, dry soil, and minimal watering (2,9). Propagation is quickly done by seed and cuttings because of the pups it produces. Aloe vera is a nearly indestructible plant in southern Arizona, grows in almost all soil types, is hardy in zones 9-10, though it prefers well-draining soil or soilless mix with organic material (8). 
Aloe vera has been widely used in many aspects of life, mainly medicinal. It has been labeled the most efficacious medicinal plant. In the past, aloe vera was used to treat every ailment that people had. They used it orally and topically primarily to treatburns, wounds, GI problems, constipation, baldness and as an antiviral, antitumor, antiaging, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory (5,6). Until 2002 aloe vera was a primary ingredient in over-the-counter laxatives. However, they were pulled from shelves due to the lack of safety data on the plant. More and more data on the plant's real medicinal properties and oral uses have started to surface, and the data hasn’t been great for the aloe’s reputation in medicinal properties. (6,10). Using aloe as a laxative has been found to cause cramping and stomach problems. Orally consuming aloe has also been linked to acute cases of hepatitis (10). However, using it topically has been found to have excellent benefits (8,10). Aloe has been proven to improve acne by applying the plant twice daily (6,10). Also, it has been found to soothe burns and help with the healing process (8). Aloe vera does not just have medicinal purposes; it is used widely as an ornamental or a house plant. Due to the ease of cultivation and its medicinal properties, this plant is widespread in cultivation. The showy blooms in the spring and the vibrant green coloration make the aloe vera a perfect option for a garden (3,4).

Height: 0 - 5 feet
Width: 0 - 5 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate Growing
Grow Season: Spring
Flower Season: Spring
Color: Yellow
Function: Patio
Spread: Spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Benign
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Semi-hardy
Water Use: Low water Use

  1. Nov. 2, 2017 
  2. Nov. 3, 2017
  3. Pennsylvania State University
  4. University of Florida
  5. NCBI
  6. Jornal of the Humanities and Social Science
  7. Lily of the Desert
  8. Tractor Junction
  9. Miracle Gro
  10. NCCIH


Aloe vera