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Barbados aloe, burn plant, Curaçao aloe, medicinal aloe, unguentine cactus

aloe family

Habit Plants short-stemmed, woody-based, stoloniferous. Trees, shrubs, and succulents, perennial, simple to sparsely branched, rhizomatous, some tuberous-thickened.

to 50 cm; scarious leaf sheaths persistent.


alternate, rosulate to distichous, 10–50 × 10–70 cm;

blade glaucous-green to variegated with small white or glaucous dots, irregular bands, or blotches, often reddish near apex or margins, lanceolate to ensate, tapering from base to apex, glabrous, margins green, spiny-toothed, teeth 1–1.5 cm apart.

simple, alternate, usually crowded at bases of stems or ends of branches, sessile;

blade fleshy, margins often prickly, venation parallel.


terminal, usually unbranched, racemose, 10–15 dm, usually covered with scalelike bracts;

racemes cylindrical, dense, 0.5 m;

bracts glabrous or puberulent, with 3 prominent purple veins that are confluent at tips.

terminal, axillary, or lateral, spicate, racemose, or paniculate.


perianth yellow;

tepals prominently 3-veined, connate basally for 1/2 their length, lobes broadly linear to oblong-lanceolate, apex rounded;

stamens 6, included to slightly exserted, slightly unequal;

filaments 2–2.5 cm;

anthers 2.5–4 mm;

style usually exserted;

stigmas not expanded;

pedicel 2.2–3.3 cm.

3-merous, short- to long-pedicellate, rarely sessile;

perianth red, brown, yellow, orange, or whitish;

tepals petaloid, connivent or connate basally to almost entirely into tube, sometimes fleshy;

stamens sometimes 3, usually 6, exserted or included;

anthers dorsifixed, dehiscence antrorse;

pollen grains monosulcate;

ovary 3-carpellate, placentation axile, usually with septal nectaries;

style terminal;

stigmas punctate, discoid, or 3-lobed.


capsular, rarely baccate, dehiscence loculicidal, apical.


somewhat elongate.


usually winged or flattened.


= 14.

Aloe vera


Phenology Flowering spring–winter, occasionally at other times.
Habitat Hammocks, sandy areas, roadsides, and similar places in full sun
Elevation 0 and 1300 m (0 and 4300 ft)
from FNA
AZ; FL; TX; Mediterranean region and Atlantic islands (Canary, Madeira, and Cape Verde) [Introduced in North America]
[BONAP county map]
Africa; Madagascar; Arabia; and Atlantic islands [All introduced]

This is the aloe of commerce and source of bitter aloe. Most of the world’s supply is grown in southern Texas and adjacent northwestern Mexico and the West Indies. The species is thought to be native to the Atlantic islands and is widely used as an indoor ornamental. It is often cultivated outdoors in the southwestern United States, where it occasionally escapes.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Genera 5, species ca. 700 (1 genus, 2 species in the flora).

Aloaceae are closely related to and included by some authors in Liliaceae.

The juice of some Aloe species is used to make a purgative called bitter aloe; active ingredients include aloin and other anthraquinones. Additionally, the thick, mucilaginous gel of some species is widely used to treat minor thermal burns, itching, and sunburn.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 26, p. 411. FNA vol. 26, p. 410.
Parent taxa Aloaceae > Aloe
Sibling taxa
A. ×schonlandii
Subordinate taxa
Synonyms A. perfoliata var. vera, A. barbadensis
Name authority (Linnaeus) Burman f.: Fl. Indica, 83. (1768) Batsch
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