1. Family: Asphodelaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Aloe L.
      1. Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f.

        Aloe vera is well known for its succulent leaves and the many uses of the gel obtained from them. This species is widely cultivated and, along with other members of the genus Aloe, is also the subject of intense scientific study with regard to the many claimed therapeutic properties.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Aloe vera is well known for its succulent leaves. The colourless jelly-like leaf parenchyma tissue is used in an extraordinary array of everyday products, from dishwashing liquid to yoghurt.

    The species is widely cultivated and, along with other members of the genus Aloe, is also the subject of intense scientific study with regard to the many claimed therapeutic properties.

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    Aloe vera is cultivated around the world. It has escaped from cultivation and become naturalised in the Mediterranean, north Africa, the Indian subcontinent, South America and the Caribbean. 

    Description

    Overview: Aloe vera is a short-stemmed shrubby aloe, frequently suckering and forming dense clumps.

    Leaves: The leaves are succulent, erect, forming a dense rosette. The leaves are greyish green, growing to about 50 cm long, with margins that are pinkish with many small spines. The leaf surfaces are sometimes marked with white flecks or spots.

    Flowers: The flowers are yellow, tubular, and up to 3 cm long, with anthers and stigma protruding. The flowers are borne in cylindrical racemes on a branched panicle up to 90 cm tall.

    Aloe vera was formerly classified as part of the Asphodelaceae family, but this is now included in Xanthorrhoeaceae.

    Uses

    Aloe vera has been used for centuries and it is more popular today than ever. It is cultivated around the world as a crop for its colourless jelly-like leaf parenchyma known as 'aloe gel'. It is used for a variety of purposes in food, food supplements, herbal remedies and cosmetics.

    Aloe vera leaf parenchyma (aloe gel) may be effective when used on the skin against psoriasis, burns, frostbite, and sores caused by the  Herpes simplex virus. Research has shown that, taken orally, aloe gel can help to lower cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol, and can help to lower blood glucose levels in people with type II diabetes.

    The green outer layer of the leaves of  Aloe vera yields a bitter, yellow exudate which has very different properties from those of the colourless parenchyma. The bitter leaf exudate has traditionally been used as a laxative. However, research has indicated that the active constituents may have harmful effects and can interact with other medicines and herbal remedies. It should not be given to children or to pregnant or breastfeeding women.

    Threats and conservation

    Aloe vera is naturalised around the world and is common in cultivation. It is not considered to be threatened.

    Cultivation

    Aloe vera is easy to cultivate, with no special requirements. It should be grown in a well-draining gritty mix. The compost should be soaked when watering during the growing season, and allowed to dry out between waterings. It can be grown in a cool/warm glasshouse and put outside for the summer. Plants can offset profusely, so propagation is by potting up offsets.

    Aloe vera at Kew

    Aloe vera , and other Aloe species, can be seen growing in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

    Behind the scenes, scientists in the Herbarium and Jodrell Laboratory at Kew have been carrying out research on Aloe vera and its relatives in the genus Aloe for decades and have published on topics such as the chemistry of the leaves, taxonomy, hybridisation, genetics and leaf surface sculpturing.

    Distribution
    Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Yemen
    Ecology
    Aloe vera is a cultivated plant but naturalised populations occur in dry, often rocky and exposed areas.
    Conservation
    Not considered to be threatened.
    Hazards

    The bitter yellow leaf exudate can be harmful and should not be taken by children, or by pregnant or breastfeeding women. The colourless leaf parenchyma (gel) can occasionally cause skin irritation.

    [KSP]
    Use
    Food, food supplements, herbal remedies, cosmetics.

    Images

    Distribution

    Native to:

    Saudi Arabia, Yemen

    Introduced into:

    Algeria, Arizona, Aruba, Ascension, Assam, Bahamas, Baleares, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Bolivia, Canary Is., Cape Verde, Cayman Is., China South-Central, Cook Is., Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, East Aegean Is., Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Florida, Galápagos, Greece, Guatemala, Gulf States, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Italy, Jamaica, Juan Fernández Is., Kriti, Leeward Is., Libya, Madeira, Mauritius, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Queensland, Réunion, Sicilia, Spain, Sri Lanka, St.Helena, Texas, Thailand, Trinidad-Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turks-Caicos Is., Venezuela, Venezuelan Antilles, Windward Is.

    Common Names

    English
    Aloe vera

    Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f. appears in other Kew resources:

    First published in Fl. Indica: 83 (1768)

    Accepted by

    • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
    • Sykes, W.R. (2016). Flora of the Cook Islands: 1-973. National Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii.
    • Jørgensen, P.M., Nee, M.H. & Beck., S.G. (eds.) (2013). Catálogo de las plantas vasculares de Bolivia Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 127: 1-1741.
    • Rico, E. & al. (eds.) in Castroviejo, S. & al. (eds.) (2013). Flora Iberica 20: 1-651. Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, Madrid.
    • Dimopoulos, P., Raus, T., Bergmeier, E., Constantinidis, T., Iatrou, G., Kokkini, S., Strid, A., & Tzanoudakis, D. (2013). Vascular plants of Greece. An annotated checklist: 1-372. Botanic gardens and botanical museum Berlin-Dahlem, Berlin and Hellenic botanical society, Athens.
    • Mostaph, M.K. & Uddin, S.B. (2013). Dictionary of plant names of Bangladesh, Vasc. Pl.: 1-434. Janokalyan Prokashani, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
    • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2012). Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192.
    • Oppenheimer, H. (2011). New Hawaiian plant records for 2009 Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 220: 5-10.
    • Carter, S., Lavranos, J.J., Newton, L.E. & Walker, C.C. (2011). Aloes. The definitive guide: 1-720. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Dobignard, D. & Chatelain, C. (2010). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 1: 1-455. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
    • Nelson Sutherland, C.H. (2008). Catálogo de las plantes vasculares de Honduras. Espermatofitas: 1-1576. SERNA/Guaymuras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
    • Suzuki, M., Taufatofua, P. & Koyama, T. (2007). New records of plants from Tonga Makinoa, n.s., 6: 25-62.
    • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2005). Monocotyledons and Gymnosperms of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 52: 1-415.
    • Danton, P. & Perrier, C. (2004). Liste de la Flore vasculaire de l'île Robinson Crusoe archipel Juan Fernández, Chili Journal de Botanique Société de Botanique de France 24: 67-78.
    • Albano, P.-O. (2003). La Conaissance des Plantes Exotiques: 1-324. Édisud, Aix-en-Provence.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2002). Flora of North America North of Mexico 26: 1-723. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
    • Fournet, J. (2002). Flore illustrée des phanérogames de Guadeloupe et de Martinique 2: 1325-2538. Gondwana editions.
    • Chaudhary, S.A. (2001). Flora of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 3: 1-368. Ministry of Agriculture & Water, Riyadh.
    • Stevens, W.D. & al. (eds.) (2001). Flora de Nicaragua 1: 1-943. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
    • van Proosdij, A.S.J. (2001). Arnoldo's Zakflora ed. 3: 1-287. Walburg Pers, Zutphen.
    • Zhengyi, W. & Raven, P.H. (eds.) (2000). Flora of China 24: 1-431. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
    • Dassanayake (ed.) (2000). A Revised Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon 14: 1-307. Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. PVT. LTD., New Delhi, Calcutta.
    • Jongbloed, M., Western, R.A. & Boer, B. (2000). Annotated Check-list for plants in the U.A.E.: 1-90. Zodiac Publishing, Dubai.
    • Liogier, H.A. & Martorell, L.F. (2000). Flora of Puerto Rico and Adjacent Islands: a Systematic Synopsis ed. 2: 1-382. Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan.
    • Jørgensen, P.M. & León-Yánes, S. (eds.) (1999). Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador: 1-1181. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
    • Wood, J.R.I. (1997). A Handbook of the Yemen Flora: 1-434. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Bono, G. (1996). Flora Y Vegetacion del Estado Táchira Venezuela: 1-951. Museo Regionaledi Scienze Naturali, Torino.
    • Govaerts, R. (1995). World Checklist of Seed Plants 1(1, 2): 1-483, 1-529. MIM, Deurne.
    • Davidse, G. & al. (eds.) (1994). Flora Mesoamericana 6: 1-543. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F.
    • Braco, L. & Zarucchi, J.L. (1993). Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru: 1-1286. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis.
    • Ghazanfar, S.A. (1992). An Annotated Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Oman and their Vernacular names Scripta Botanica Belgica 2: 1-153.
    • George, A.S. (ed.) (1986). Flora of Australia 46: 1-247. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
    • Hoyos F., J. (1985). Flora de la Isla Margarita Venezuela: 1-927. Sociedad de Ciencias Naturales La Salle.
    • Meikle, R.D. (1985). Flora of Cyprus 2: 833-1970. The Bentham-Moxon Trust Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1984). Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 8: 1-632. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
    • Proctor, G.R. (1984). Flora of the Cayman Islands: 1-834. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London.
    • Brown, L.C. (1982). The Flora and Fauna of St Helena: 1-88. Land Resources Development Centre, Surbiton, England.
    • Correll, D.S. & Correll, H.B. (1982). Flora of the Bahama Archipelago: 1-1692. J.Cramer, Vaduz.
    • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1980). Flora Europaea 5: 1-452. Cambridge University Press.
    • Smitinand, T. & Larsen, K. (eds.) (1978). Flora of Thailand 1: 1-694. The Forest Herbarium, National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Bangkok.
    • Hara, H., Stearn, W.T. & Williams, H.J. (1978). An Enumeration of the Flowering Plants of Nepal 1: 1-154. Trustees of British Museum, London.
    • Jafri, S.M.H. & El-Gadi, A. (eds.) (1978). Flora of Libya 57: 1-81. Al-Faateh University, Tripoli.
    • Adams, C.D. (1972). Flowering Plants of Jamaica: 1-848. University of the West Indies, Mona.
    • Maire, R. (1958). Flore de l'Afrique du Nord 5: 1-307. Paul Lechevalier, Paris.
    • Moscoso, R.H. (1943). Catalogus Florae Domingensis: 1-732. New York.
    • Britton, N. (1918). Flora of Bermuda: 1-585. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.

    Literature

    Kew Species Profiles
    • Jellin, J. M., Gregory, P. J., et al. (2008). Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. 10th Ed. Therapeutic Research Faculty, Stockton.
    • Reynolds, G. W. (1966). The Aloes of Tropical Africa and Madagascar. Aloes Book Fund, Mbabane.

      Reynolds, T. (ed.) (2004). Aloes: the Genus Aloe. CRC Press, Boca Raton.

    Kew Backbone Distributions
    • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
    • Sykes, W.R. (2016). Flora of the Cook Islands: 1-973. National Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii.
    • Rico, E. & al. (eds.) in Castroviejo, S. & al. (eds.) (2013). Flora Iberica 20: 1-651. Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, Madrid.
    • Mostaph, M.K. & Uddin, S.B. (2013). Dictionary of plant names of Bangladesh, Vasc. Pl.: 1-434. Janokalyan Prokashani, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
    • Oppenheimer, H. (2011). New Hawaiian plant records for 2009 Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 220: 5-10.
    • Carter, S., Lavranos, J.J., Newton, L.E. & Walker, C.C. (2011). Aloes. The definitive guide: 1-720. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Dobignard, D. & Chatelain, C. (2010). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 1: 1-455. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
    • Buragohain, S. & Sarma, G.C. (2009). The exotic weeds of Guwahati, Assam and their role in employment generation Pleione 3(1): 45-49.
    • Danton, P. & Perrier, C. (2004). Liste de la Flore vasculaire de l'île Robinson Crusoe archipel Juan Fernández, Chili Journal de Botanique Société de Botanique de France 24: 67-78.
    • Fairhurst, W. (2004). Flowering Plants of Ascension island: 1-300. Higham Press, Shirland, Alfreton, England.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2002). Flora of North America North of Mexico 26: 1-723. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
    • Fournet, J. (2002). Flore illustrée des phanérogames de Guadeloupe et de Martinique 2: 1325-2538. Gondwana editions.
    • Chaudhary, S.A. (2001). Flora of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 3: 1-368. Ministry of Agriculture & Water, Riyadh.
    • Stevens, W.D. & al. (eds.) (2001). Flora de Nicaragua 1: 1-943. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
    • Zhengyi, W. & Raven, P.H. (eds.) (2000). Flora of China 24: 1-431. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
    • Dassanayake (ed.) (2000). A Revised Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon 14: 1-307. Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. PVT. LTD., New Delhi, Calcutta.
    • Liogier, H.A. & Martorell, L.F. (2000). Flora of Puerto Rico and Adjacent Islands: a Systematic Synopsis ed. 2: 1-382. Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan.
    • Jørgensen, P.M. & León-Yánes, S. (eds.) (1999). Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador: 1-1181. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
    • Bono, G. (1996). Flora Y Vegetacion del Estado Táchira Venezuela: 1-951. Museo Regionaledi Scienze Naturali, Torino.
    • Davidse, G. & al. (eds.) (1994). Flora Mesoamericana 6: 1-543. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F.
    • Espejo Serena, A. & López-Ferrari, A.R. (1993). Las Monocotiledóneas Mexicanas una Sinopsis Florística 1(2): 1-70. Consejo Nacional de la Flora de México, México D.F.
    • Braco, L. & Zarucchi, J.L. (1993). Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru: 1-1286. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis.
    • Ghazanfar, S.A. (1992). An Annotated Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Oman and their Vernacular names Scripta Botanica Belgica 2: 1-153.
    • George, A.S. (ed.) (1986). Flora of Australia 46: 1-247. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
    • Hoyos F., J. (1985). Flora de la Isla Margarita Venezuela: 1-927. Sociedad de Ciencias Naturales La Salle.
    • Meikle, R.D. (1985). Flora of Cyprus 2: 833-1970. The Bentham-Moxon Trust Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1984). Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 8: 1-632. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
    • Proctor, G.R. (1984). Flora of the Cayman Islands: 1-834. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London.
    • Brown, L.C. (1982). The Flora and Fauna of St Helena: 1-88. Land Resources Development Centre, Surbiton, England.
    • Correll, D.S. & Correll, H.B. (1982). Flora of the Bahama Archipelago: 1-1692. J.Cramer, Vaduz.
    • Smitinand, T. & Larsen, K. (eds.) (1978). Flora of Thailand 1: 1-694. The Forest Herbarium, National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Bangkok.
    • Hara, H., Stearn, W.T. & Williams, H.J. (1978). An Enumeration of the Flowering Plants of Nepal 1: 1-154. Trustees of British Museum, London.
    • Jafri, S.M.H. & El-Gadi, A. (eds.) (1978). Flora of Libya 57: 1-81. Al-Faateh University, Tripoli.
    • Adams, C.D. (1972). Flowering Plants of Jamaica: 1-848. University of the West Indies, Mona.
    • Maire, R. (1958). Flore de l'Afrique du Nord 5: 1-307. Paul Lechevalier, Paris.
    • Leon, H. (1946). Flora de Cuba 1: 1-441. Cultural S. A., La Habana.
    • Moscoso, R.H. (1943). Catalogus Florae Domingensis: 1-732. New York.
    • Britton, N. (1918). Flora of Bermuda: 1-585. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.

    Sources

    Art and Illustrations in Digifolia
    [A] Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2018. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [B] © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2018. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [C] © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [D]
    [E] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0