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Scientific classification e

Kingdom: Plantae

Clade: Angiosperms

Clade: Monocots

Order: Asparagales

Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae

Subfamily: Asphodeloideae

Genus: Aloe

Species: A. vera

Binomial name

Aloe vera

(L.) Burm.f.

Synonyms

Aloe barbadensis Mill.

Aloe barbadensis var. chinensis Haw.

Aloe chinensis (Haw.) Baker

Aloe elongata Murray

Aloe flava Pers.

Aloe indica Royle

Aloe lanzae Tod.

Aloe maculata Forssk. (illegitimate)

Aloe perfoliata var. vera L.

Aloe rubescens DC.

Aloe variegata Forssk. (illegitimate)

Aloe vera Mill. (illegitimate)

Aloe vera var. chinensis (Haw.) A. Berger

Aloe vera var. lanzae Baker

Aloe vera var. littoralis J.Koenig ex Baker

Aloe vulgaris Lam.


Aloe vera (/ˈæloʊiː/ or /ˈæloʊ/) is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe. It grows wild in tropical climates around the world and is cultivated for agricultural and medicinal uses. Aloe also is used for decorative purposes and grows successfully indoors as a potted plant.

The cosmetic and medicinal value of the plant is debated. It is found in many consumer products.

Description

Aloe vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 60–100 cm (24–39 in) tall, spreading by offsets. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with some varieties showing white flecks on their upper and lower stem surfaces. The margin of the leaf is serrated and has small white teeth. The flowers are produced in summer on a spike up to 90 cm (35 in) tall, each flower being pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) long. Like other Aloe species, Aloe vera forms arbuscular mycorrhiza, a symbiosis that allows the plant better access to mineral nutrients in soil.

Aloe vera leaves contain phytochemicals under study for possible bioactivity, such as acetylated mannans, polymannans, anthraquinone C-glycosides, anthrones, other anthraquinones, such as emodin, and various lectins.

Aloe Vera Buds at Sakherbazar, Kolkata

Taxonomy and etymology

Spotted forms of Aloe vera are sometimes known as Aloe vera var. chinensis

The species has a number of synonyms: A. barbadensis Mill., Aloe indica Royle, Aloe perfoliata L. var. vera and A. vulgaris Lam. Common names include Chinese Aloe, Indian Aloe, True Aloe, Barbados Aloe, Burn Aloe, First Aid Plant. The species epithet vera means "true" or "genuine". Some literature identifies the white-spotted form of Aloe vera as Aloe vera var. chinensis; however, the species varies widely with regard to leaf spots and it has been suggested that the spotted form of Aloe vera may be conspecific with A. massawana. The species was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 as Aloe perfoliata var. vera, and was described again in 1768 by Nicolaas Laurens Burman as Aloe vera in Flora Indica on 6 April and by Philip Miller as Aloe barbadensis some ten days after Burman in the Gardener's Dictionary.

Techniques based on DNA comparison suggest Aloe vera is relatively closely related to Aloe perryi, a species endemic to Yemen. Similar techniques, using chloroplast DNA sequence comparison and ISSR profiling have also suggested it is closely related to Aloe forbesii, Aloe inermis, Aloe scobinifolia, Aloe sinkatana, and Aloe striata. With the exception of the South African species A. striata, these Aloe species are native to Socotra (Yemen), Somalia, and Sudan.[23] The lack of obvious natural populations of the species has led some authors to suggest Aloe vera may be of hybrid origin.

Distribution

The natural range of A. vera is unclear, as the species has been widely cultivated throughout the world. Naturalised stands of the species occur in the southern half of the Arabian Peninsula, through North Africa (Morocco, Mauritania, Egypt), as well as Sudan and neighbouring countries, along with the Canary, Cape Verde, and Madeira Islands. This distribution is somewhat similar to the one of Euphorbia balsamifera, Pistacia atlantica, and a few others, suggesting that a dry sclerophyll forest once covered large areas, but has been dramatically reduced due to desertification in the Sahara, leaving these few patches isolated. Several closely related (or sometimes identical) species can be found on the two extreme sides of the Sahara: dragon trees (Dracaena) and Aeonium being two of the most representative examples.

The species was introduced to China and various parts of southern Europe in the 17th century. The species is widely naturalised elsewhere, occurring in temperate and tropical regions of Australia, Barbados, Belize, Curaçao, Nigeria, Paraguay, Mexico and the US states of Florida, Arizona and Texas. The actual species' distribution has been suggested to be the result of human cultivation.

Cultivation

Aloe vera has been widely grown as an ornamental plant. The species is popular with modern gardeners as a putatively medicinal plant and for its interesting flowers, form, and succulence. This succulence enables the species to survive in areas of low natural rainfall, making it ideal for rockeries and other low water-use gardens. The species is hardy in zones 8–11, although it is intolerant of very heavy frost or snow. The species is relatively resistant to most insect pests, though spider mites, mealy bugs, scale insects, and aphid species may cause a decline in plant health. In pots, the species requires well-drained, sandy potting soil and bright, sunny conditions; however, Aloe plants can burn under too much sun or shrivel when the pot does not drain water. The use of a good-quality commercial propagation mix or packaged "cacti and succulent mix" is recommended, as they allow good drainage. Terra cotta pots are preferable as they are porous.

Potted plants should be allowed to completely dry prior to rewatering. When potted, aloes become crowded with "pups" growing from the sides of the "mother plant", they should be divided and repotted to allow room for further growth and help prevent pest infestations. During winter, Aloe vera may become dormant, during which little moisture is required. In areas that receive frost or snow, the species is best kept indoors or in heated glasshouses. Large-scale agricultural production of Aloe vera is undertaken in Australia, Bangladesh, Cuba,the Dominican Republic, China, Mexico, India,Jamaica, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, along with the USA to supply the cosmetics industry with Aloe vera gel.

This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Herbal farming in Chhattisgarh: Aloe vera

Aloe vera gel being used to make a dessert

Uses

Extracts from Aloe vera are widely used in the cosmetics and alternative medicine industries, being marketed as variously having rejuvenating, healing, or soothing properties. However research supporting this usage hasn't unequivocally supported benefit and safety.

Under the guidelines of California Proposition 65, orally ingested non-decolorized aloe vera leaf extract has been listed by the OEHHA, along with goldenseal, among "chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity".

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