Plant text by Naomi Lacey and photo by Russ Grayson
Common name: Aloe Vera
Scientific name: Aloe barbadensis
Family, and related species: Xanthorrhoeaceae
Description including form (tree, climber etc), other similar species
A stemless succulent that grows to 1m. It has thick, fleshy leaves that are grey-green to green with white flecks. The edge of the leaves are serrated and contain a clear gel inside. Plants like growing in a big clump together.
Role/ characteristics/use in permaculture
Aloe has excellent medicinal properties and is considered to be a rejuvenating, healing and soothing herb. It aids digestive health and is excellent for placing on sunburn or some skin conditions.
A beautiful ornamental plant that does well in rockeries or in pots.
A lush, bright plant that is perfect for low water use gardens.
Ecology and habitat requirements
Aloe needs a well drained soil that is preferably dry, loose and sandy. It will grow in light shade to full sun but if it gets too hot in full sun the leaves will turn brown. It does not like too much water as it stores a lot of water in its leaves so water sporadically. Also it does not like too much fertiliser preferring instead a light, loose or rocky mulch. A plant that will literally thrive on neglect.
Naturally resistant to most pests and disease it will sometimes get attacked by mealy bugs.
Access to plants
Grow from pups or seed. Cut the pup from the mother plant, and then leave for the wound to dry for a couple of days prior to planting.
Aloe is available at most nurseries and markets.
Norrington, Leonie, 2001, Tropical Food Gardens: A guide to growing fruit, herbs and vegetables, Bloomings Books, Melbourne, Australia
Wikipedia, 2014, Aloe vera
wikiHow, 2014, How to Plant Aloe Vera
Gardening Know How, 2014, Aloe Vera Plant Care – How to Grow an Aloe Plant
How to Grow Stuff.com, 2014, How to Grow Aloe Vera.