dictionary defines aloe this way: "Any
of a large genus of plants of the lily family, native to South Africa,
with fleshy leaves that are spiny along the edge and with drooping
clusters of tubular red or yellow flowers."
Third" states that there are 200 to 250 species of this succulent
herb. One of these, Aloe barbadenis (once called Aloe vera), is
considered "the medicine plant" and is usually found growing
in kitchen windows.
is one of the herbs listed in The Song of Solomon in the Bible. The
famous Cleopatra of Egypt is reported to have used aloe gel on her skin
to keep it soft and shining.
in history, Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and, as the story goes,
he learned of an amazing plant with wound-healing powers that grew
extensively on an island off Somalia. This notable warrior went on to
seize the island and its wonderful plants, which were used in the
healing of his soldiers’ wounds.
plants, of course, were aloe. Common sense naturally tells us that aloe
grew in the Garden of Eden and probably has been used since the
beginning of time.
time went by, someone discovered that aloe produces a yellow dye which
makes it a crafts herb as well as a medicinal, cosmetic and ornamental
plant. From its native land of arid Africa, the culture of aloe has
spread around the world.
plant nursery can provide you with a pot of at least one variety of aloe
– Aloe barbadenis being No.1. Throughout the tropical world you’ll
find areas where it is field grown as a commercial crop. Of course, it
must be considered a pot plant in temperate or colder climates since it
is not cold hardy.
other succulents, aloe grows best in well drained, slightly sandy,
moderately rich soil. It prefers partial shade. Propagation can be from
seed, but this is very tedious procedure.
much easier means of propagation is by plant division. A healthy plant
will soon begin to show young shoots that spring up from the leaf base.
If not divided periodically, these younger shoots will push the origina1
plant completely out of the soil.
repotting an aloe plant, it should be allowed to root cure free of soil
or water for a few days or weeks. I have allowed them to remain in this
condition for over three months before removing the lower leaves and
depositing the root system deep into a pot filled with a good potting
medium and sand. At this point, I watered well and began routine care,
allowing the soil to become almost dry before adding more water. My
aloes grew beautifully.
do not have room here for all my collected stories regarding the
beneficial use of aloe, so I will limit it to two in this article. Of
course, you know that aloe is commonly called "the burn
a young mother, whose husband was at work, had a kitchen grease fire.
Her scream brought neighbors to her aid while she herded her children to
safety and called 911. By the time emergency crews arrived, her fire was
extinguished with very little damage. One member of this well-trained
emergency unit reached into the kitchen window for aloe and treated arm
burns which the young mother had been totally unaware of receiving.
I had a call from a lady in Selma. She gave me her recipe for aloe tea,
which she calls her "kidney stone medicine." She said her son
was in severe pain due to kidney stones. She gave him this tea. He was
relieved and evidently passed the stone. I wonder if the gel
encapsulated the stone and eased its passage.
is her recipe: "Boil aloe leaves well. Strain and drink for pain.
This is a bland tea which is good for pain and infection."
know a young nurse who uses fresh aloe gel as hand lotion instead of the
commercial blends. Of course, commercial products are un1imited — lip
balms, creams, lotions, shampoos, you name it.
studies have proven the medicinal worth of aloe. This is one herb on
which folklore and scientific medicine generally agree. You’ll find it
listed among the ingredients of many over-the-counter and
always, I must suggest that you consult with your doctor before taking
aloe or any other herbal remedy internally.
Nadine Johnson is a resident of Goshen, a member of the Goshen Farmers Co-op, and a long time user and promoter of wise herb use. Her telephone number is 334-484-3580. Her email is