Aloe esculenta is an evergreen, succulent, perennial plant forming a compact rosette of leaves. It usually suckers freely to form dense clumps of plants that are often stemless but can eventually develop short, thick, often decumbent stems up to 40cm long[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local medicinal use.
The sap of Aloe species contains anthraquinones. These compounds have several beneficial medicinal actions, particularly as a laxative, and many species of Aloe are thus employed in traditional medicine. Whilst safe in small doses and for short periods of time, anthraquinones do have potential problems if used in excess. These include congestion and irritation of the pelvic organs[
]. Long term use of anthraquinone laxatives may also play a role in development of colorectal cancer as they have genotoxic potential, and tumorigenic potential[
Southern Africa - Angola, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana.
In hot dry country, in open sandy pan-like areas and stunted mopane woodlands at elevations around 1,000 metres[
Plants are not tolerant of frost, being damaged if the temperature falls to 0°c[
Succeeds in full sun and in light shade[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
Aloe species follow the Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM). CAM plants can fix carbon dioxide at night and photosynthesize with closed stomata during the day, thus minimizing water loss. This, plus their succulent leaves and stems, and the presence of a thick cuticle, makes them well adapted to dry conditions[
The leaf sap is applied to burns and cuts[
The pulverized, dried root is made into a paste by adding water and is massaged into painful and swollen body parts[
The distinctive constituents in Aloe leaves are phenolic compounds, including chromone, anthraquinone or anthrone derivatives. Some of the compounds are found in many species, whereas others occur in only a few[
Seed - we have no specific information on this species - in general Aloes are sown in a sandy, well-drained potting soil in a warm, shady position in standard seed trays. Germination takes about three weeks. Cover the seed with a thin layer of sand (1 - 2mm), keep moist. The seedlings can be planted out in individual bags or containers as soon as they are large enough to handle[
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