There are around 400 varieties of aloe to be found across all countries with a warm climate.
However, only some of these varieties are recognised for their medicinal and cosmetic properties, including the vera, ferox, arborescens, chinensis, saponaria and succotrine varieties.
Some species are actually trees with a smooth trunk that can grow up to a dozen metres in height!
Aloe plants are able to store large amounts of water in the tissue found in their fleshy leaves and sometimes their trunks in order to survive in hot, dry climates (dichotoma, diplocata, pilansii and barberae varieties). Their inflorescences can be yellow, red or orange.
Aloe Barbadensis Miller, usually known as Aloe vera, is a succulent plant that can grow up to 1m high.
The thick fleshy leaves are green and the flowers yellow.
Its origin is probably the island of Socotra, under Yemen in the Gulf of Aden. But it has been growing for several millennia in the Mediterranean region, Africa, India and South America in arid climates.
Aloe vera has been used for several millennia for cosmetic purposes. It was used in ancient Egypt as a “plant of immortality”, but the first traces of therapeutic use of Aloe date back to the Sumerian civilization.
Aloe arborescens is a succulent plant that can reach 3m in height and spread over 2m.
Compared to the Aloe vera, its leaves are thin, of bright green color. The edge is wavy and thorny. Its flowers are bright red.
Aloe arborescens is found in regions with hot and harsh climates: Southern Africa, South America, Central Asia.
It has a high content of vitamins, trace elements, antioxidants, enzymes, polysaccharides (in particular acemannan) and up to 67 times more concentrated than Aloe vera*, giving it exceptional moisturizing and antioxidant properties.
Many species of aloe originate from Africa and the Near East, where the greatest diversity of species can be found.
Nowadays, aloe vera is found in its natural state in all countries close to the Tropics, such as the Caribbean, South-East Asia, the West Indies, the Bahamas, Mexico, Madagascar and even Mediterranean countries and the southern United States.
The most commonly used variety of aloe is aloe barbadensis (or barbadensis Miller, after botanist Philip Miller), popular for the rich translucent gel it produces and the many beneficial properties thereof.
It is also the variety that features most heavily in the scientific literature and that has been the most widely studied, particularly by means of clinical tests.
“The aloe plant is a veritable pharmacy
in its own right, with the ability to cure
various conditions by itself.”