Aloe Vera is a member of the Liliaceae family. Also known as Aloe barbadensis, Barbados aloe, and medicinal aloe. (Quattrocchi, 2000) There are nearly five hundred species of aloe, found throughout the world today. These low or stem-less plants that originated from Africa, have prickly margined, pointed leaves that produce a yellowish, gel or medicinal sap, when cut. Taonomic Affiliation: The species Aloe Vera is more scientifically known as Aloe barbadenis. It is a member of the Asphodelacea (Liliaceae) family, which has many other similar plants, but A. Vera seems to be the most well known. (Mabberley, 1997)
Importance: The Aloe Vera plant is world renowned for its healing benefits. Many people refer to it as the burn plant because it is widely used for relief of minor burns, included those caused from the sun. The outside of the leaf is smooth and rubbery to touch and inside is the Aloe Vera “gel” that is so highly regarded. The gel appears to contain some type of wound suppressant that accelerates the rates of healing of injured surfaces. Scientists have found that the Aloe Vera “gel” is a diverse mixture of antibiotic, astringent, coagulating agent, pain inhibitor, cell growth stimulator and scar inhibitor.
Scientists have not yet determined all of the uses for the Aloe Vera plant, nor why it works some of the wonders it does. They believe that it is the mixture of ingredients found in the gel. Aloe Vera contains more than 70 essential ingredients including most vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein, amino acids and vitamin B12. Aloe Vera can be taken internally or applied externally to cure many numerous aliments. Some of the external applications including skin disorders, oral disorders, ear and eye disorders. Some of the internal uses include fungal infections, athletics injuries, stomach and kidney disorders, diabetes, and parasites.
Chinery, 1966) Economical Importance: Aloe Vera is also economically important because it is used in many skin products and cosmetics. The plant is used in sunblock, and burn relief creams. It is also found in bandages and mens and womens shaving creams. These are just some examples of some of the many practical and everyday uses for the Aloe Vera plant. Many people keep the plant in their kitchen, and in the case of a cut or burn they simply break a leaf in half and spread the medicinal gel onto the affected area. Life Cycle: The flowers can be bisexual or regular.
The plant reproduces as most angiosperms do, but using pollen from their flowers. The pollen is usually carried either by the wind, or by insect from the male flower (containing the pollen) to a female flower for fertilization. Description: This group is known for having storage organs that are usually bulbs, corns or rhizomes. They usually have low stems or no stems at all. The flowers (if any) are found characteristically in a raceme at the top of a stalk. The yellow flowers are borne on the stalks, which in some species of Aloe can be up to about three feet tall.
The leaves are usually toothed or spiny at the margin, and are hollow, containing the medicinal gel. (Mabberley, 1997) Habitat: The Aloe Vera plant is found growing throughout Africa, around the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, and in many countries in South America. (Chinery, 1966) The plant was originally discovered growing in Africa, and so the warmer climates of the southern hemisphere are obviously the environment it prefers, although it can survive in flower pots in peoples homes, throughout the world.