Aloe Vera – Aloe barbadensis
Origin: South Africa
Aloe vera is known worldwide for the propensity of its sap to aid in the quick healing of cuts and burns. The sap is also used in cosmetics and lotions. Folklore has it that the aloe vera plant has been used for these purposes for at least 3000 years. Ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks all have recorded instances of its use.
Aloe vera has aesthetic value as well, with grayish sword-shaped leaves and spikes of yellow flowers. A succulent, it requires well-draining soil and prefers bright light to full sun. It does not tolerate frost so those of us who live the northern climes need to keep indoors for at least part of the year. The aloe vera should be watered thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch.