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Scientific: Aloe vera (Synonym: Aloe 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 Sea.

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: Upright, rugged, spreading, spiked, tough, odoriferous.

Growth Habit: Evergreen, succulent, herbaceous perennial, moderate growth rate to 2-feet tall, densely clumping and spreading from stolons and shallow rhizomes to 4 feet in diameter.

Foliage/Texture: Leaves succulent, strap like, 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, and rarely propagated by seed because asexual propagation by division is so easy.

Disease and pests: None, although in the deserts of Arizona mature clumps o medicinal aloe are a habitat for black widow spiders.

Additional comments: This is one of the best aloe species for outdoor landscape use in Phoenix because of its greater environmental stress tolerance and relative nice form. In the landscape, this plant attracts hummingbirds when in bloom and black widow spiders throughout the year nest within its dense clump.

Ethnobotanical uses: Aloe vera is a long-time plant of commerce. There are many documented domestic, medicinal, and industrial uses. As a medicinal crop, medicinal aloe has been intensively cultured in the West Indies (Netherlands Antilles) of the Caribbean.

Taxonomic tidbits: 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'.