|A Broward County Extension Reprint for Study|
The Aloe commonly grown in South Florida is the species Aloe barbendensis, also known as Aloe Vera, of the Liliaceae family.
The Aloe bears some resemblance to the Century Plant, but differs in its smaller size, its less rigid spines and its much shorter stalk of flowers that are yellow in color. The leaves differ in structure from typical leaves in that the internal part is succulent, consisting of thin-walled cells filled with a watery mucilaginous material that can be scooped out with a spoon. The outer part of the leaf's rigid framework includes a number of ducts or tubes filled with a bitter yellow juice having laxative properties because of various anthraquinone constituents. It is this yellow juice that is collected and dried in the West Indies and elsewhere for use in laxative preparations sold in pharmacies.
The Aloe has been used for many years as a medicine for various ailments and for an ointment for burns, cuts, etc., but it has only been within the last few years that doctors and medical institutes throughout the United States have conducted tests on the plant.
It is being use as an ingredient in various beauty preparations, for cuts, burns, and sliced up in water to make a liquid to be taken internally for stomach ailments.The clear jelly-like material from the inside of the plant has been found to be be extremely effective in the relief of x-ray burns. It was used extensively during World War II for this purpose. It also has a healing effect on ulcers.
There are records of Aloe being used during the First Century A.D. by the Romans, and its used was mentioned in a book published in England in 1595 as a medicine to comfort the stomach.
CULTURE- Light, open, well-drained soil of moderate fertility is best for the Aloe. It may be planted in full sun or partial shade. They may be planted in pots or in the open ground. After the plant is established, water moderately in during periods of drought, fertilize once in summer when the rainy season begins. The Aloe may be planted near the seashore as it is extremely tolerant of salt.
PROPAGATION- By offsets from around the old plant and by seedage. As the offsets appear and reach about 3-4 inches in height they may be removed from the mother plant and set about one foot apart in the open ground or pots. When they have become established they may be removed to a permanent location and set about 2 feet apart. Aloe is subject to cold and will freeze to the ground in winter in North Florida unless the plants are well protected.
There are many varieties of Aloe grown in South Florida for their tropical appearance in the landscape, but Aloe barbadensis is the one known for its medicinal properties.
Broward County Agricultural Agent's Office
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