All about Aloe (Aloe vera) – History, Meaning, Facts, Care & More

Facts about Aloe vera

Aloe flower is derived from Aloe vera plant, which is an evergreen perennial. The succulent plant belongs to Aloe genus and has its origins in the Arabian peninsular region. Semitropical, tropical and even arid climates are favorable for the growth of Aloe.

Although it grows wild in such climates, it is cultivated for its medicinal and agricultural uses. It is also a decorative plant that grows indoors successfully in pots as it does not need much sunlight.

Aloe is an important ingredient in many consumer products such as cosmetics, skin cream, ointments, beverages, and in medicinal ointments for sunburns and minor burns.

The flower of aloe vera appears during spring and winter season Although the original Aloe vera flower is yellow in color, there are clones available that bear flowers in orange color. The flower belongs to Lily family and has cactus-like characteristics


History of Aloe

The use of Aloe vera has been found in all cultures over several centuries. The plant has medicinal properties, which made it an indispensable component in treating ailments in ancient cultures of Egypt, India, China, Japan, Mexico and Greece.

The use of Aloe dates back to over 6000 years in Egypt. History also indicates that Cleopatra and Nefertiti used aloe as part of their beauty treatment. Christopher Columbus and Alexander the Great had used Aloe for treating wounds of soldiers.

More recent Aloe vera use dates to as far back as 1655 AD as gleaned from the English translation by John Goodyew of the book Dioscorides’ Medical treatise De Materia Medica. In the early part of the 1800s, Aloe was used as a laxative in the USA. During the middle 1930s, Aloe began to be used for treating severe and longstanding dermatitis.


Characteristic of Aloe vera

Aloe Barbadensis Miller is the botanical name of Aloe Vera. It comes under the Liliaceae family. Aloe belongs to shrub variety and is a xerophytic, perennial, succulent and green (pea)colored plant. It is found mainly in dry parts of America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Aloe plant has more than 400 species of which Aloe vera is the most prevalently used. The plant grows easily and is tolerant of to lack of light. It grows well in gritty, well-draining soil with regular watering.

Aloe flower blooms from the inflorescence that spurts from the attractive rosette of aloe leaves.  The flowers are found in plants that are of a minimum four years of age. Thus, it is not possible to see flowers prevalently in younger plants. The lack of flowers could also be due to cultural problems, which can be rectified easily.

The flowers are commonly seen during March, April and May months in the Agricultural zones 7, 8 and 9 in the US. The flowers may be minimal in cooler climates due to a lack of exposure to light and heat.

The flowers are similar to the Red Hot Poker flowers and have blooms that are orange or yellow in color. They are found hanging as clusters over a rigid flower stalk. Flowering Aloe also needs similar care as the younger plants. The spent stalk of Aloe should be removed after all petals have dried out and dropped down.


Use of Aloe

According to stone inscriptions dating back about 6000 years, Aloe Vera was called as the plant of immortality and was gifted to pharaohs during their funeral. The plant has multiple uses, which include treatment of wounds, hemorrhoids, hair loss and as a laxative.

The gel of aloe vera is made as yellow latex and clear gel for use in health care products. The gel is used mainly for topical application on skin. It can help in skin conditions like cold sores, psoriasis, burns, frostbite and more.

It is also consumed for the treatment of diseases such as fever, bowel diseases and osteoarthritis.  Oral aloe latex is used for relieving constipation.

Aloe vera contains several essential minerals, which are important for the functioning of the human body. The gel is said to help in prolonging youth due to the positive effects the gel has on the skin.


Aloe Flower Meaning

‘Aloe’ in Aloe vera name is a derivation from Alloeh, an Arabic word, which means shining and bitter substance. The word ‘Vera’ is a Latin derivative meaning ‘true’.  Greek scientists some 2000 years ago regarded the plant as a universal panacea. It was called a plant of immortality by Egyptians.


How to Care For Aloe vera

Proper care is needed for the aloe plant to bear flowers. Since it is a succulent, excessive watering can rot it. On the other hand, too little water can make it shrink and die.  Here are some tips for watering and other aspects of aloe vera care:

Aloe vera should be planted in a well-draining soil. A succulent mixture or regular soil mixed with cactus soil is preferred.

Ensure drainage holes are present. Place pebbles or small-sized gravel in the pot bottom, if it is tall.

Wilting, darkening of leaves, blistered leaf cells, mold in soil and softening of stems indicate that there is excessive moisture

Too dry plant leaves tend to pucker and wither. The yellowing of leaves also indicates that the plant needs water.

During the growing season, which is from springtime up to fall, the plant should be kept moist. During winter the amount of water needs to be reduced by half. On average, watering once a week is sufficient, but consider more frequency if there are extreme heat and sunlight

If the plant is overwatered, let it dry by pulling it out. Check the roots for fungal disease and trim any of the roots if you find any signs. Replant the Aloe and water the plant after a week.

Flowers are found only in mature plants and are hard to achieve. There are different hues of flowers due to the diverse varieties of the plant. The blooms are present in dense clusters. They open from the top to bottom. So, both fully bloomed flowers and buds can be seen. More sunlight is needed for blooming.

The best temperature to maintain for flowering is 70 degrees to 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the day time and less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the night.

Fertilizing also helps the plant to bloom. Water the plant after fertilizing to drain the excess salts. Avoid using a fertilizer with high phosphate or phosphorus content. Liquid fertilizer can be diluted and used once in a month and during the growing season only.

Small containers are best for growing flowering aloe plants. Blooming is more when the root mass is dense, which can be achieved by growing them in small containers.