Interested in growing South African aloe? Learn more about the amazing variety and benefits of aloe from South Africa...
The South African aloe is named after the Greek word for the dried out juice of the aloe leaves, ferox, and is used and translated as fierce or war-like. That mainly refers to the spiky edged leaves. The most famous of the South African aloes is the bitter variety. It is known to have medical qualities that help in healthcare and disease management. It is possible to obtain the bitter yellow juice, which can be extracted from just under the skin of the South African aloe. It has been harvested that way for more than two centuries. This black, hard and resinous derivative is called the Cape aloe or the aloe lump. The major health benefit derived from this product is use as a laxative and as a remedy for arthritis.
The Structure of Aloe
The jellylike flesh inside the leaves is a major constituent of cosmetic products and is used to heal the skin and wounds. There are two major varieties of aloe, which are known as the Aloe ferox and the Aloe broomii, which have been immortalized in rock carvings and paintings from over 250 years ago. It is a very tall and single stemmed plant. It can be found in abundance from the Cape all the way through to the south of Kwazulu-Natal. It is also grown and harvested in the Southeast of the Free State and the southern part of Lesotho.
It is available in a variety of habitats ands widely distributed. This hardy plant can be found on the slopes of rocky hills in large quantities and looks beautiful in the winter as it spreads across the terrain. On the Southwest Cape it thrives in grassy knolls and in the south and Eastern Cape it has been found on the far edges of the borders. The plant grows very easily in bushy as well as open areas.
The physicality of the plant differs widely from region to region and the aloe in the Cape is completely different from the winter plant, which grows in the southeastern Free State. The most beautiful form of South African aloe is derived from Kwazulu-Natal, which lies in between the mainland and coastal area in the Umkomaas region and Umlaas river catchments area. The height of the South African aloe can reach a maximum of 3 m and the leaves form rosettes due to the arrangement. They do not fall off and simply droop down to skirt the stem. The dull green leaf sometimes has a bluish or a reddish tinge. Some of aloe has very beautiful curvy tips like the ones found on the A. candelabrum. The reddish spines are found on both the upper and lower surface of the leaves and are most noticeable and abundant in the young plants.