It’s like bringing a piece of natural prehistory into your home: Aloe is a survivor that can cope with virtually everything, including forgetful waterers.
Colours and shapes
Very tough, powerful shapes and easy to live with: Aloe (officially known as: Aloe vera) has thick blue-green leaves which reach a length of 40-50 cm and grow up in spikes from a rosette up to a maximum of 100 cm. The leaves are greyish green, and have serrated edges. Aloe is an exceptionally resilient plant which stores moisture and nutrients in the leaves in order to get through dry periods. The plant flowers in the summer, and helps keep the air in your home clean.
Aloe is a succulent from the Affodil family and has been growing on the Arabian Peninsula for millions of years. There are some 300 species. As a desert plant, Aloe must survive in an extreme climate, which is why it produces more than 75 substances to help it. For example, if a leaf is damaged, the ‘wound’ will immediately seal with coagulating sap in order to retain as much moisture as possible, just as with humans. The active ingredients in Aloe have also been found to have healing properties for human beings. The ancient Egyptians called it ‘the immortality plant’. The first description in European documents dates from 1655. Nowadays Aloe also occurs in countries around the Mediterranean, Indonesia, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Aloe’s sap is a popular ingredient in cosmetics and skincare products. Cleopatra and Nefertiti used it in ancient times.
The name derives from the Arabic word ‘Alloeh’, which means ‘shiny bitter fluid’. This refers to the cooling, gel-like liquid in the leaves. ‘Vera’ effectively means ‘the real thing’.
In Arabia Aloe is also called 'saber', which means ‘patience’. It grows slowly, but the plant lasts for generations and becomes part of the family.