An aloe is a plant that has thick, fleshy, water–storing leaves. It is native chiefly to dry warm areas of southern Africa. It lives, grows, flowers, and produces seeds for three or more consecutive years.
Historians believe that aloe is one of the most ancient plants used by mankind for medicinal purposes. The ancient Chinese and Egyptians knew it as a means to treat burns, wounds, reduce fever. If you believe the legend, Alexander of Macedon captured the island of Socotra, only for the sake of the aloe, which his wounded warriors needed. It is said that Cleopatra used the juice of this plant daily to care for the skin. And in 1944, the Japanese used a gel made from it for treatment and faster healing of wounds.
Aloe contains the drug substance aloin in its juice. Aloin heals wounds, improves appetite, restores digestion and also cures colds. The old lower leaves contain more aloin. If the cut leaf is put in the refrigerator and held there for 2-3 weeks, special substances (biogenic stimulators), which enhance the process of skin regeneration, are produced in the leaves.
Biologists know about at least 400 species of aloe, but the most popular is Aloe Barbadensis Miller, or Aloe Vera.
The spiral aloe, also known as the kharetsa, has a rosette, or rounded cluster of 75 to 150 mostly erect leaves measuring up to 79 centimeters across. Each leaf is egg–shaped and very fleshy, measuring 20 to 30.5 centimeters long and 6 to 10 centimeters wide. The leaves have rather soft white spines on their edges. The color of the blooms can range from pale red to salmon pink. The number of spiral aloes in the wild has decreased because the plants have been dug up for sale to gardeners and nurseries, and the construction of roads have also destroyed much of the plant’s habitat. This aloe is the national flower of Lesotho.