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FOC | Family List | FOC Vol. 24 | Liliaceae | Aloe

1. Aloe vera (Linnaeus) N. L. Burman, Fl. Indica. 83. 1768.

芦荟 lu hui

Aloe perfoliata Linnaeus var. vera Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 320. 1753; A. barbadensis Miller var. chinensis Haworth; A. chinensis (Haworth) Baker; A. vera var. chinensis (Haworth) A. Berger.

Herbs succulent. Stems short, suckering freely to form dense clumps. Leaves sub-basal, slightly distichous in seedlings and new shoots, erect, pale green, sometimes with pale spots in very young plants, linear-lanceolate, 15--35(--50) × 4--5(--7) cm, margin sparsely spiny-dentate, apex 2- or 3-dentate-pointed. Inflorescence erect, 60--90 cm; peduncle to 2 cm thick; raceme 30--40 × 5--6 cm, sometimes with 1 or 2 ascending branches, numerous flowered; bracts whitish, broadly lanceolate, ca. 10 × 5--6 mm, veins 5--7, apex acute. Flowers reflexed; pedicel ca. 1/2 as long as bract. Perianth pale yellow mottled with red, slightly ventricose, 2.5(--3) cm, outer lobes free for ca. 1.8 cm, slightly recurved at apex. Stamens exserted by 4--5 mm. Style conspicuously exserted. 2 n = 14*.

Cultivated for medicinal uses, and perhaps naturalized in the hot, dry Yuan Jiang valley in S Yunnan [probably originated in Mediterranean region; widely cultivated and occasionally naturalized elsewhere].

Chinese material is smaller in all parts than typical Aloe vera, but not strikingly so, and there does not seem adequate reason to treat it as anything other than a cultivar of the very widely grown species. The origins of A. vera are obscured by the long history of cultivation and the absence of definite wild populations. Aloe indica Royle (Ill. Bot. Himal. Mts. 1: 390. 1840), from N India, Nepal, and Thailand, is closely related, apparently differing only in having reddish flowers. Flower color is variable in many species of Aloe and it is likely that this species is conspecific with A. vera. All other related taxa are native to NE tropical Africa and Arabia.


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