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Aloe arborescens is a large multi-headed sprawling succulent, its specific name indicating that it sometimes reaches tree size.Typical height for this species 2–3 metres.
Its leaves are succulent and are green with a slight blue tint. Flowers are arranged in a type of inflorescence called a raceme. The racemes are not branched but several can sprout from each rosette. Flowers are cylindrical in shape and are a vibrant red/orange colour.
Aloe arborescens is indigenous to the south eastern part of Southern Africa. Specifically, this range includes the countries of South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It has the third largest distribution amongst the aloe genus. Although Aloe arborescens has adapted to many different habitats, its natural habitat usually consists of mountainous areas including rocky outcrops and exposed ridges.
Aloe has been used as a folk medicine for centuries all over the world.
Aloe is popular in both traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. African traditional healers chose the Aloe Arborescens as the aloe best representing African traditional medicinal plants. 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.
Growing Aloe arborescens
Aloe arborescens is valued by gardeners for its architectural qualities, its succulent green leaves, large vibrantly-colored flowers, and winter blooming.
The sweet nectar attracts birds, butterflies and bees.
This aloe is easily propagated by cuttings.