This week's plant spotlight features a plant that can do it all, the Aloe! The Aloe genera is made up of over 500 species. Talk about a big family! Aloes come in all shapes and sizes and they're found throughout the world from the Arabian Peninsula to islands in the Indian Ocean. All Aloes are succulents and most have a green, rosette shape with bright, coloured flowers. And this isn't the only thing that makes them special. So without further ado, let's delve into the world of the Aloe!
The most famous type of Aloe is the Aloe Vera, known simply as Vera here at Plantsome. Vera is famous for her use in many products ranging from medicinal ones like an anti-burn gel to aloe-flavoured soft drinks and cosmetics. And this isn't a new trend. Aloe Vera has been used as a medicine and a beauty product throughout history, dating back to its medicinal use in Mesopotamia in 2, 2000 B.C. Cleopatra herself was known to use Aloe Vera for her skin and Alexander the Great was said to take Aloe plants into battle to treat his soldier's wounds. Sure, plants like Alfredo the Monstera are insta-famous (who doesn't love #monsteramondays?). But few green amigos can say that they're featured in history textbooks. Wow!
It's a bird, it's a plane...no, it's Vera!
Besides being used in countless medicines and cosmetics, Aloe Vera is also a very strong air purifier. Vera was featured in the NASA air purifying study, which found that certain plants like Sansevieria and Zamioculcas remove harmful toxins from the air. So not only is Vera the face of cosmetics, food, and medicine. She also makes fresh, clean air. Oh Vera, what can't you do?
Despite its widespread use as a beauty, health, and food product, Aloe Vera is slightly toxic and can be quite harmful to pets. How ironic. So next time your furry friend spends too much time in the sun, opt for something other than Aloe Vera gel to relieve the burn.
Special feature: Haworthia (Zebra Cactus)
Despite the name Zebra cactus, our friend Vern is not a cactus at all. Haworthia are succulents that are part of the same subfamily as our friend Vera! And it's quite easy to tell. Vern looks like a small, stripped version of Vera and they both have the same type of care.
The Haworthia genus is a bit of a taxonomic mess and Zebra Cacti have often been added and removed from many genera, including the Aloe genus. All the confusion has led many to ignore Vern and not a lot of research has been done around Haworthia or their unique properties. Which is why we have invited Vern as a special guest on this week's plant spotlight. Don't worry Vern, we know how special you really are!