Your Guide to the Different Types of Aloe Vera and Their Uses

 You may not have realized there are different types of aloe vera, but there are many. Learn about them and how they are used here.

 Did you know that the use of aloe vera dates back to a time when pharaohs and their queens roamed the earth? Cleopatra was an avid fan and incorporated the gel of the aloe vera plant in your daily beauty regime.  

The aloe vera plant is an extremely hardy succulent. It can survive in the harshest conditions yet still yield a number of health benefits. With over 250 species of the plant, which species of aloe vera does what? Learn all about the beneficial types of aloe vera here... 

Why is Aloe Vera So Revered? 

Aloe Vera Barbadensis is, undoubtedly, the most cultivated and harvested species of the plant. It's native to North Africa and can live for over a century, along with a number of other wild species.

For centuries, the aloe vera plant has been revered for its healing properties. Aloe vera gel is comprised of 96% water and is used to treat ailments such as burns, skin conditions, and acne. It heals cuts and other fissures. It's also used as an alternative form of relief from sunburn. Look for alternatives to natural-based sunscreen options here.   

The other by-product of the aloe vera plant is aloe vera latex which is often used as a form of laxative. As mentioned, aloe vera is a form of succulent. They typically grow and form a rosette, then sprout off into different shapes and sizes. 

The Different Types of Aloe Vera and Their Benefits

Aloe vera serves as a very diligent and low-maintenance houseplant. With the right species, you can even harvest your own aloe vera gel and use it to treat any of the above ailments. Here are some of the most popular and widely used variations that you could either grow in your garden or keep as a house plant: 

1. Stone Aloe (Aloe Petricola)

This is a beautiful species of aloe that you could easily plant and grow in your yard to make a real statement. The stone aloe grows vibrant red, orange, and yellow flowers which makes it easy to identify. They are beneficial to your garden because they help to purify the air. The gel from the stone aloe can also be used to heal minor burns, cuts and other wounds. 

2. Climbing Aloes (Aloe Ciliaris)

Climbing aloes have been dubbed with this name due to their ability to grow in excess of 5 meters tall if they are supported well. This species of aloe also has large red, tubular flowers, making it easy to identify from other species. Climbing aloes are great for garden decoration as they generally attract bees and sunbirds. They bloom all-year-round and also make good houseplants if potted well. They are great for boosting the general environment of both your home and garden. 

3. Cape Aloe (Aloe Ferox)

The Cape aloe species goes by a number of different names, some of which include bitter aloe, tap aloe or red aloe. It's a popular aloe species due to its bitterness when used as an ingredient as well as in skin care and medical products. This is probably one of the most widely-used species of aloe for its nourishing skincare properties. The Cape aloe grows to roughly 4-feet tall and also has bright red flowers, making it a lovely garden plant. 

4. Candelabra Aloe (Aloe Arborescens)

This type of aloe is akin to a small tree, growing up to 10-feet tall in the right environment. It's a multi-headed succulent that tends to grow much larger than other species - hence the name ''candelabra''. This species of aloe is known to help fight off bacteria when harvested for consumption. 

5. Spider Aloe (Aloe Humilis)

The spider aloe grows in the typical rosette shape of a succulent with long, triangular leaves, mottled with white speckles. It also sprouts red, orange, and yellow flowers. This makes it a beautiful choice for succulent gardens or houseplants. The gel from this species of aloe is great for treating sunburn and is even effective at fighting off bacteria as a medicine. 

6. Lace Aloe (Aloe Aristata)

This species is also known as guinea fowl aloe. It's a stemless succulent, with dark green leaves covered with white speckles. The large red and orange flowers which grow from it make the perfect attraction for local bees, insects, and birds. The lace aloe is incredibly therapeutic to flowers and plants around it and can help support your garden. Its roots can also be used to create healing, anti-bacterial medicines. 

How to Harvest an Aloe Vera Plant

If you're looking to harness the medicinal and therapeutic properties of aloe, the harvesting process is pretty simple. You can harvest aloe vera for both its gel and juice. But bear in mind that a mature plant is best as it ensures you'll harvest a far higher concentration of active ingredients. 

Make sure you have a few aloe vera plants on rotation. This is because you should wait a few weeks before cutting the leaves off a plant once it's potted or planted. Here are a few steps on how to harvest aloe gel or juice: 
  • Remove only 3-4 aloe leaves at a time- choose thick leaves from the outside of the plant 
  • Make sure the leaves are in top condition i.e. free from damage, dark spots or mold 
  • Cut the leaves as close to the stem as possible- a dense amount of nutrients is at the base of the leaves 
  • Wash and dry the cut leaves and trim off prickly edges
  • If you don't plan on using the aloe vera latex (the yellow sap), let is drain out the leaf properly, first  
  • Gently separate the interior gel from the outside of the leaf with scissors or your fingers 
Once you've collected enough gel, you can cut it up into slices or cubes and store in a container in a cool, dark space. Otherwise, for a smooth gel, blend it up, then strain through a muslin cloth to remove excess pulp. To make a drinkable product, mix 1 cup of liquid to 2-tablespoons of aloe gel.  

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Now that you're a little more clued up on the different types of aloe vera, don't miss the rest of this website for more on health and beauty tips, tricks, and advice. 

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