Name probably derived from an Arabic or Hebrew term with the meaning of “bitter”. Already in the first century d. C. Dioscorides used the Greek word albe for the name of the plant and from this it was also coined the term aloeddrion to indicate the purge that was extracted. The genus includes succulent evergreen, African, some of which, naturalized in the Mediterranean area, have sharp leaves almost always arranged in rosette and almost all with marginal spines. Similar to Agave (see), with which they are often confused, however they are largely caulescent and have showy panicle inflorescences with red, yellow or orange flowers. In the juvenile form, many species have dichotomous leaves which, except for a few species, change their position with age, spiraling and assuming the final rosette shape. Some species are of economic importance for the condensed juice that is extracted from the fleshy leaves, with a very bitter taste and which, variously processed, constitutes a digestive tonic in very small doses and in moderate doses a mild purgative. THERE. arborescens and the A. true are spontaneous in Southern Italy and on the Riviera and rustic in other mild climates of the peninsula.
Cultivated species of Aloe:
Aloe arborescens reaches up to 6 m tall, is very ramified, forms real bushes with numerous basal suckers, has open rosettes of narrow and thorny leaves, often curved outwards when they grow old, until they lean towards the stem disseccandosi; It has red flowers. A. brevifolia, a low species, with many suckers that form dense colonies of rosettes with glaucous and robust leaves, triangular and carinated, also spiny on the inferior, semirustica page; there is a var. depressed and a variegated. A. ciliaris, sarmentosa, with thin and ramified stems and little fleshy leaves, spaced along the stems as they lengthen, slightly thorny, scarlet flowers with greenish tip. Aloe ferox has a rather tall and sturdy stem with large, fleshy leaves, hollowed on the upper page and bent on the lower one, very strong brown spines. The leaves retain a distal arrangement for a long time and only the older plants form a real rosette; it almost never emits suckers. Aloe mitriformis, rosette of fleshy and concave green leaves with pale marginal spines that are generally persistent throughout the length of the stem that can reach one meter. It forms many basal suckers until it gives rise to small bushes with red flowers. A. plicatilis, a species very different from the others, has narrow dichotomous leaves and fleshy green-glaucous with very thin indentation on the white margin, brought on the tip of the large branched stems that grow very slowly until forming a shrub of about 2 m. emits suckers and stem cuttings root with difficulty. Aloe striated, large rosette almost acaulous, with broad fleshy gray-glaucous leaves slightly striated longitudinally, one of the rare unarmed species, with white margins that become pink in the sun, almost never emits polyions and has been hybridized with many other species. A. variegata, a dwarf species that reaches a maximum of 30 cm and grows slowly, with fleshy and pointed azure-glaucous leaves with irregular white streaks, imbricate in trine order and very faired, with finely serrated white margins and apical spine. It can be used successfully as a houseplant since it supports a certain degree of winter heat.
the cultivation of Aloe in Italy is easy, as long as it is important to keep in mind that they must have a very permeable soil, not organic, although rather rich and very fearful of the rot; the waterings must therefore be dosed appropriately, except during the summer. All require only frost protection, as long as they are kept dry in colder periods. They are multiplied by suckers or cuttings of shoots or stems; those that do not emit, propagate by seed which is however of rather slow growth; plants that emit suckers hardly, can be encouraged to do so by pruning them, in which case the top of the stem can also be used as a cuttings. Any type of cutting must be carried out on just wet sand after the wound has been left to dry.
Also read: Alocasia (Araceae).