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Revision as of 15:35, 9 July 2012


Edible uses


Leaves - cooked[1]. Very bitter, they are an emergency food that is only used when all else fails[2]. A gel in the leaves is sometimes used as an ingredient of commercial jellies[3]. Seed[1][3]. An emergency food used when all else fails[2]. It is very unlikely that the seed will be produced in Britain[4].


Material uses

The leaf extracts are used in skin-care cosmetic products[4][5]. Plants have been grown indoors in pots in order to help remove toxins from the atmosphere. It is also unusual in that it continues to release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide in the dark, making it very suitable for growing in bedrooms[6].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Aloe vera is a fairly well known herbal preparation with a long history of use. It is widely used in modern herbal practice and is often available in proprietary herbal preparations[K]. It has two distinct types of medicinal use. The clear gel contained within the leaf makes an excellent treatment for wounds, burns and other skin disorders, placing a protective coat over the affected area, speeding up the rate of healing and reducing the risk of infection[254, K]. This action is in part due to the presence of aloectin B, which stimulates the immune system[5]. To obtain this gel, the leaves can be cut in half along their length and the inner pulp rubbed over the affected area of skin[K]. This has an immediate soothing effect on all sorts of burns and other skin problems[K]. The second use comes from the yellow sap at the base of the leaf. The leaves are cut transversally at their base and the liquid that exudes from this cut is dried[7]. It is called bitter aloes and contains anthraquinones which are a useful digestive stimulant and a strong laxative[5]. When plants are grown in pots the anthraquinone content is greatly reduced[5]. The plant is emmenagogue, emollient, laxative, purgative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic, vermifuge and vulnerary[7][8][9][10][11][12][13]. Extracts of the plant have antibacterial activity[14]. Apart from its external use on the skin, aloe vera (usually the bitter aloes) is also taken internally in the treatment of chronic constipation, poor appetite, digestive problems etc[4]. It should not be given to pregnant women or people with haemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome[4][15]. The plant is strongly purgative so great care should be taken over the dosage[4]. The plant is used to test if there is blood in the faeces[11]. This plant has a folk history of treatment in cases of cancer[14].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow spring in a warm greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 6 months at 16°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of very well-drained soil when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a sunny part of the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. If trying them outdoors then plant them out in early summer to allow them to become established before the winter, and give them some protection from the cold in winter[K]. Division of offsets when available, usually in spring. The plants produce offsets quite freely and they can be divided at any time of the year as long as it is warm enough to encourage fresh root growth to allow re-establishment of the plants[K]. Pot up and grow on in the greenhouse until established.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Aloe vera. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Requires a well-drained soil and a very sunny position[16]. Plants are tolerant of poor soils[17]. If trying to grow this plant outdoors then it will need the sunniest and warmest area in the garden plus some protection from winter cold (a glass frame perhaps)[K]. This species is not very cold-hardy outdoors in Britain, it is best grown in a pot placed outdoors in the summer and put in a greenhouse for the winter[16]. It grows very well in a sunny windowsill[K].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Aloe vera. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Aloe vera.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Aloe vera
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Drought
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type

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"image:A.vera-suzana-1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:A.vera-suzana-1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:A.vera-suzana-1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:A.vera-suzana-1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

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  1. ? Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
  2. ? Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
  3. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  4. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  5. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
  6. ? 6.06.1 Wolverton. B. C. Eco-Friendly House Plants. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. London. ISBN 0-297-83484-3 (1996-00-00)
  7. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  8. ? 8.08.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
  9. ? 9.09.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  10. ? 10.010.1 Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
  11. ? Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  12. ? 12.012.1 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
  13. ? 13.013.1 Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
  14. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
  15. ? 15.015.1 Medicinal Plants of Nepal Dept. of Medicinal Plants. Nepal. (1993-00-00)
  16. ? 16.016.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  17. ? 17.017.1 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  18. ? ? Flora Europaea Cambridge University Press (1964-00-00)