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Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)

The Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) belongs to the asphodel plants, so it is more closely related to torch lilies and steppe candles than to agaves. Its toothed leaves, up to 90 centimeters long, stand in rosettes and are fleshy thickened. In the flowering season, a branched flower stalk up to three meters high grows up from the gray-green rosette, densely covered at its ends with yellow or red individual flowers, depending on the variety.

Origin and cultivation

Even in ancient times, aloe vera was highly valued for its wound-healing properties. Its homeland is probably the Sudan and the Arabian Peninsula. Today it is grown everywhere in the world where there is a dry tropical or subtropical climate; the largest exporters of aloe vera gel are the USA and Mexico. The plant is propagated by the root shoots that grow around the mother plant. They are separated and moved to their own place. If only three to four of the outer leaves are harvested at a time, an aloe vera plant can be used for up to ten years.


Because the active ingredients quickly lose their potency, the harvested leaves must be processed within a few hours. Under the leathery outer skin of the aloe leaves is a thin, fibrous layer that contains a very bitter, yellow juice. The leaf bark and sap layer are carefully removed, leaving the inner gel, which is transparent and somewhat slimy. If you have an aloe vera at home, you can apply the gel fresh; for use in creams, it must be elaborately stabilized. Overall, aloe vera has a wound-healing and skin-regenerating effect, it relieves itching and promotes blood circulation.

Use of the aloe vera gel

Aloe vera gelAloe vera gel
  • In cosmetics, aloe vera gel is a real all-rounder and one of the most commonly used herbal ingredients in hair and skin care products
  • For acute skin injuries of all kinds - sunburn, burns, sprains, bruises, cuts and insect bites - the cooling and wound-healing gel is applied to the skin. It is also said to stimulate the human immune response.

In the dry season, the leaves of the aloe vera straighten up so that they lie on top of each other like narrow onion skins and protect each other from too much water loss through transpiration. The tree aloe, Aloe arborescens, which is closely related to Aloe vera, is not as easy to propagate and contains less gel in its leaves, but is said to be even more effective than Aloe vera. It forms a branched stem and its flowers are red, never yellow.

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