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Aloe vera (aloe vera)

Aloe vera has been described as a wonder-plant. The colourless jelly-like leaf parenchyma tissue is used in an extraordinary array of everyday products, from dishwashing liquid to yoghurt.
Aloe vera plant

Aloe vera (Photo: Emma Crawforth)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f.

Common name: 

aloe vera

Conservation status: 

Not considered to be threatened.


Aloe vera is a cultivated plant but naturalised populations occur in dry, often rocky and exposed areas.

Key Uses: 

Food, food supplements, herbal remedies and cosmetics

Known 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.


Genus: Aloe

About this species

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.


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.


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