The Aloe arborescens are all pushing up flower buds right now. They are such a wonderful sight to see, with their rich warm colour. The Sun-birds and Bees delight in the sweet nectar.
It is known as the Kranz (cliff) aloe and it easy to grow. It develops into a multi-headed shrub, 2 to 3 meters high with striking grey green leaves arranged in attractive rosettes. The leaf margins are armed with conspicuous pale teeth.
Derivation of the name & historical aspects
The name aloe is from the Greek alsos and refers to the bitter juice from the leaves of these plants. It is probably derived from the earlier Arabic word alloeh or the Hebrew word allal, both meaning bitter. The Latin word arborescens means tree-forming or tree-like, and is a bit misleading in that this aloe is not really tree-like, but the name was originally applied to this species in reference to the stem-forming habit. The common name krantz aloe refers to its habitat, a krantz being a rocky ridge or cliff.
In many parts of South Africa it is planted around Kraals as a living fence.
The Zulu people use the leaves of this plant, dried and pounded into a powder, as a protection against storms. Decoctions of the leaves are also used in childbirth and in treating sick calves. In the Transkei it is used for stomach ache and given to chickens to prevent them from getting sick. In the Orient, this aloe is grown in domestic gardens as a convenient first-aid treatment for burn wounds and abrasions. In fact it was only after it was used to treat irradiation burn victims of Hiroshima that its healing properties received attention from the West. Extracts from the leaves have been widely investigated since then and shown significant wound healing, anti-bacterial, anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, hypoglycaemic and also alopoeic activity. The leaves have also been found to have purgative properties and the leaf sap is reported to relieve x-ray burns.
The krantz aloe is an easy and rewarding plant to grow.
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