Scientific: Aloe vera (formerly A. barbadensis)
Common: medicinal aloe, curacao, unguentine, Barbados aloe cactus
Family: Asphodelaceae (formerly Xanthorrhoeaceae)
Origin: South and East Africa, but naturalized from the Mediterranean region of North Africa to India and in the drier West Indies Islands of the Caribbean.

Pronounciation: AL-o VER-a

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 8-9, 12-24
USDA 9-11

Landscape Use: Accent, border, edging, rock gardens, healing gardens, oasis or xeriscape design motifs, attracts hummingbird.

Form & Character: Evergreen succulent, rugged, spiked, odoriferous.

Growth Habit: Clumping and spreading from shallow rhizomes and stolons.

Foliage/texture: Stem less, stoloniferous (branch lying on ground), succulent upright gray green, acuminate narrowly-lanceolate leaves to 1 to 2 feet with whitish to reddish toothed margins, leaves turn reddish purple when plant is under drought stress; coarse texture.

Flowers & fruits: Tubular yellow 1 inch in spiked racemes (flowers borne on a spike without pedicels) to 3 feet; fruit multicarpulate, green fading to light brown, ugly.

Seasonal color: Yellow flower stalks in February to March as weather warms.

Temperature: Hardy to 26oF

Light: Full sun to partial shade. No full shade.

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: Only occasional supplemental irrigation is needed during the summer to keep medicinal aloe looking good. Foliage becomes flaccid and purple when cold or drought stressed.

Pruning: Divide and thin crowded clumps about every 3 to 5 years to reinvigorate.

Propagation: Extremely easy by division. Rarely propagated by seed.

Disease and pests: None, although in the deserts of Arizona it is a habitat for black widow spiders.

Additional comments: This is one of the best aloes for outdoor landscape use in Phoenix because of it's environmental stress tolerance and relative nice form. It is a long-time plant of commerce and a favorite folk plant for medicinal purposes dating back to ancient Chinese cultures. In the landscape, this plant attracts hummingbirds when in bloom and black widow spiders throughout the year nest within it's clump.

As a medicinal crop, medicinal aloe is intensively cultured in the West Indies (Netherlands Antilles) of the Caribbean. Aloe is a known remedy for dermatitis, peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, reduction of blood sugar levels, and as a laxative. In general, aloe taxonomy is quite complex and confusing. Aloe is derived from the Greek word 'alsos' which means the 'bitter juice from the leaves'.