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Aloe vera, Aloe barbadensis, Aloe ferox
Although aloe is a succulent that looks like a cactus, it is a member of the lily family. Its thick, spiky leaves are filled with a rich gel that’s useful for treating burns, cuts, and scrapes. While fresh aloe is fantastic to have on hand, the bottled kind is also effective and convenient.
Parts Used: Gel and juice from inner leaves
Precautions: Aloe juice is a strong laxative. It should not be taken internally during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Identifying/ Growing: There are over 250 aloe species worldwide. Most species are native to Africa, and feature intricate gray-green patterns on their leaves as well as tall, slender stems yielding yellow, tube shaped flowers. You probably won’t find this plant growing wild unless you live in a tropical climate, but you can easily grow it as a houseplant. Plant your aloe in a wide pot filled with gravelly or sandy soil. Feed it with slow-release pellets or a 10-40-10 fertilizer, and water it regularly. Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings, particularly during the winter months when it has its dormancy phase. If you live in a cold area with warm summers, feel free to put your aloe outdoors when there is no chance of freezing weather.