Aloe vera has around 250 species, of which four are grown for their health benefits. Aloe Vera Barbadensis is the most cultivated of the species and is native to North Africa. Wild species of aloe vera can live for a century.
The plant produces two substances: the aloe vera gel, which is 96 percent water, and the latex, which is used as laxative. It is said that Cleopatra, known to be “a woman of surpassing beauty,” applied aloe vera gel on her skin as part of her beauty regimen.
Parts of an Aloe Vera Plant (Diagram)
1. Common Aloe (A. arborescens Burm.f.)
The aloe vera plant is known for its sap that is helpful in easing a sunburn and many other types of skin ailments. Because other aloe plants can be toxic, this one is the best one to use for medicinal purposes, and it is well-suited to being a houseplant. In addition, the Aloe vera does well in dry conditions with little light, although it is frost-tender, so it needs to be protected when it’s cold outside.
Common Aloe is an evergreen species native to North America. It grows up to 3 m tall and produces thick, woody, spiny stems covered in long, silky hair. Its gel is used as a natural remedy for acne, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, and other skin problems.
2. Aloe ciliaris
Also known as the common climbing aloe, this plant is thin and tough and grows incredibly fast. It produces tubular flowers that are bright red-orange in color and have creamy-yellow tips. Bees and birds love it, and it makes a great garden plant for this and for many other reasons. The leaves are bright-green and have soft, hair-like teeth, and they perfectly complement the flowers when they are in bloom.
3. Aloe x principis
Growing up to 9 feet in height, this aloe produces spikes in the Winter that are bright scarlet or orange in color and therefore it brightens up any Winter garden. Native to South Africa, the plant is deer-resistant, attractive to birds and bees, and it looks beautiful in Mediterranean or succulent gardens, not to mention as accents or borders. Like most other aloe plants, this one does best in full sun and well-drained soil.
4. Arabian Aloe (Aloe rubroviolacea)
This plant is native to the Amazon rainforest. It grows up to 40 cm tall and produces large oval-shaped leaves with a red interior.
It’s also known by its scientific name, “Rubia tinctorum.”
It is used in traditional medicine to treat arthritis and rheumatism. In addition, its gel is used in creams and lotions.
With thick, blue-green leaves that arch outwards, this aloe has reddish teeth and margins, and the leaves go from purple-tinged in the full sun to brilliant violet-red in Winter. Growing up to 3 feet high and 6 feet wide, the plant does best in soil that is well-drained and in bright, full sun. It can highlight rock gardens, borders, and succulent gardens, and tolerates soils with most types of pH balances.
5. Cape Aloe (Aloe ferox)
Native to South Africa, this type of aloe consists of blue-green leaves that often have tinges of rose and get up to 3 feet long. When the older leaves dry out, they remain on the plant and form a petticoat on the stems. Bright red-orange, tubular flowers appear in the Winter, which perfectly complement the orangish teeth surrounding each stem. The aloe is known for its valuable gel and can get as tall as 9 feet high.
6. Cape Speckled Aloe (Aloe microstigma)
This type of aloe is native to East Africa. It grows up to 30 cm tall and produces large round leaves with a bright pink interior.
With blue-green leaves that turn reddish-brown when they are stressed, this aloe grows beautiful spikey flowers that get up to 3 feet tall and start out as red buds, then turn yellow-orange and orange in color later on. Their bi-color look makes them eye-catching and unique, and they are virtually disease-free but very attractive to birds and bees. They also make beautiful borders and accent plants, and deer will stay away from them.
7. Coral Aloe (Aloe striata)
Growing up to 18 feet high and 18 feet in width, this aloe has flat, broad leaves that are pale grey-green in color but which turn pink in the sun and a more bluish color in the shade. It has purple-pink margins and produces beautiful, tubular, coral-orange flowers in late Winter to early Spring. The plant looks beautiful in containers and in sunny borders, and it does best in well-drained soil and full sun or partial shade.
8. Fan Aloe (Aloe plicatilis)
Like its name suggests, this aloe consists of slender, long leaves that form a fan-like structure. The leaves are blue-grey in color and have bright-orange tips, and spikes of orange-red flowers grow in late-Winter to the Spring. Once you see this plant, you’ll understand why it has won several international flower awards. The plant grows to 8 feet in height and looks like a small tree, and it is both deer-resistant and virtually disease-free
9. Golden Toothed Aloe (Aloe nobilis)
This aloe has triangle leaves that are bright-green in color and include whitish teeth along the sides, and the leaves turn an amazing orange color when they are in the full sun. Bright-orange tubular flowers appear in the Spring, which can get up to 2 feet high, and the plant grows profusely to provide a very large display, making it perfect for groundcovers and borders. They do best in full sun and in soil that is sandy and gravelly.
10. Malagasy Tree Aloe (Aloe vaombe)
An unusually large aloe, it can get up to 12 feet high and 5 feet in width. Its leaves are fleshy and have white teeth, and they turn from dark-green to a vibrant deep-red when they are in full sun. They also produce beautiful red flowers that stand out, and because of their color they make beautiful focal points for any garden. They are native to Madagascar, and are virtually disease-free.
11. Mountain Aloe (Aloe marlothii)
This is a truly majestic succulent that forms a dense cluster of grey-green leaves that each taper to a strong point. With reddish-brown spines and tubular flowers that appear in the Winter, this aloe grows up to 10 feet high and is perfect for accents, borders, and containers. The flowers start out bright orange-red but turn to yellow or bright-red later on, and they are very attractive to birds and bees.
12. Red Aloe (A. parviflora L.)
This type of plant is native to Madagascar and the Comoros Islands. It grows up to 50 cm tall and produces large heart-shaped leaves with a bright red interior.
Its gel contains anthraquinones which are believed to be responsible for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
13. Red Aloe (Aloe rubrobrunnescens Hochst. ex A. Rich.)
This type of red aloe is native to West Africa. It grows up to 50 cm tall and produces large heart-shaped leaves with a bright red interior.
Its gel contains anthraquinones which may help to fight cancerous tumors.
14. Sand Aloe (Aloe hereroensis)
Both the leaves and the flowers of this plant are unique, with the leaves decorated with fine lines throughout and the flowers consisting of orange-red tubular flowers that have a tall, green, protruding center which often looks like a pine cone. A truly stunning plant, the Sand Aloe gets up to 2 feet tall and does best in soil that is alkaline and well-drained. Best if not over-watered, this aloe looks great in Mediterranean gardens and rock gardens, not to mention containers.
15. Short-Leaf Aloe (Aloe brevifolia)
These round-shaped perennials make a beautiful addition to your garden, especially if you have a dozen or so planted together. Their leaves are pale-blue in color but turn rose-pink and golden-yellow in the sun, so they are quite a spectacle. In late Spring, tubular flowers orange in color appear, and they can grow up to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. They are deer-resistant and virtually disease-free.
16. Snake Aloe (Aloe broomii)
This robust succulent is one of the most eye-catching aloes there are, getting up to 1 foot wide and consisting of long, beautiful light-green leaves. Reddish-brown teeth adorn the edges, and it takes roughly 5 or 6 years to reach its full size. Frost-resistant, the Snake Aloe is perfect for arid and semi-arid regions and makes a great focal point for anyone’s garden. it is virtually disease-free and perfect for sandy and well-drained soils.
17. Aloe capitata var. quartziticola
With tapered grey-green leaves that turn blue-grey when it’s cloudy and purple-tinged when it’s sunny outside, this aloe produces a flower stalk that gets up to 3 feet in height. The flowers have round heads and are bright-yellow with darker shades of orange towards the center. The plant can get up to 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide, and it is both deer-resistant and attractive to bees and birds.
18. Soap Aloe (Aloe maculata)
With sword-shaped leaves that are blue-green in color and covered with white blotches and white teeth on the edges, this aloe’s leaves get pink-red when it is in full sun. Hummingbirds and bees love this plant, and it is both salt- and drought-resistant. It grows up to 18 inches high and in the Winter, it sets tubular flowers in bright coral-orange that love to show off, as they often bloom several times throughout the year.
19. Spiral Aloe (A. gerrardii Baker f.)
This species is found in Australia and New Zealand. It grows up to 2 m tall and produces thick stems covered in soft, silky hair that spirals around the stem.
Its gel is used in creams and lotions for its anti-inflammatory properties.
The grey-green leaves on this aloe form a perfect spiral shape, and the leaves have white to pale-green spines along the edges and dark, purple-brown at their tips. Although it rarely flowers, when it does the flowers are salmon-pink and tubular. The winner of several international flower awards, the Spiral Aloe does best in full sun and is both drought-tolerant and deer-resistant.
20. Sunset Aloe (Aloe dichotoma Burm. f.)
Very colorful and eye-catching, this type of aloe has bright-green leaves that turn bright-red in the full sun. Getting up to 1 foot high and 2 feet in width, it produces spikes of greenish-yellow flowers when Winter arrives, and it looks beautiful in containers or as groundcovers. The Sunset Aloe also has flowers that produce nectar and therefore, it is attractive to bees and birds, and it is virtually disease-free as well.
Its gel makes a good base for cosmetics such as creams and lotions because it is known to help heal wounds and burns.
21. Tilt-Head Aloe (Aloe speciosa)
This aloe has blue-green leaves that often have pink tinges at the tips and edges. The leaves are quite large, getting up to 3 feet in length, and from them grow thick, dense spikes that have colors such as deep-red, brownish-red, and creamy-yellow, giving it a beautiful tri-color look. The plant itself can get up to 10 feet high, and hummingbirds love it. Because of its size and beauty, the Tilt-Head Aloe makes the perfect specimen plant for gardens of any size or type.
22. Torch Aloe (Aloe arborescens)
This is a unique plant in that it has both attractive foliage and colorful flowers that attract attention. It has sword-shaped leaves with pale-colored teeth along the edges, and in winter it sets beautiful spikes in deep orange-red that perk up the foliage. Its shrubby habit grows to 10 feet high and 10 feet wide, and it makes a beautiful accent plant or border, as well as a great addition to any containers you may have.
23. Torch Plant (Aloe aristata)
A succulent evergreen, this type of aloe has incurved, lance-shaped leaves that are pale green but turn much darker when it’s sunny. Each leaf has white spots throughout it, as well as white spotty trim around the leaf, and it produces cone-shaped clusters of bright orange-red flowers in the Winter. Between its rose-like shape and its beautiful flowers, the Torch Plant is the perfect addition to any Winter garden.
24. Tree Aloe (Aloe barberae)
Tree aloes can grow up to 60 feet high and 10 feet in width, and they grow small red flowers with green spots during the Winter months. There are different types of tree aloes, including the Aloe pillansii, which grows to 30 feet in height and looks like a cactus; and the Aloe dichotoma, also called a quiver tree, which is one of the largest of all the aloe plants.
25. Van Balen’s Aloe (Aloe vanbalenii)
Looking similar to an octopus, this type of aloe has curling leaves that are bright-green with copper-red edges and which turn to dark-red when it’s sunny. It grows up to 3 feet in height and produces tubular flowers in Winter to early-Spring that are yellow or yellow-orange in color. The plant is native to South Africa and is attractive to bees and birds, and it is also deer-resistant.
26. Barbados Aloe (Aloe barbadensis)
Aloe Barbadensis Miller is an evergreen species native to South Africa. It grows up to 1 m tall and produces large leaves, which are green on top and white underneath.
It is very popular because of its long-lasting flowers and healing properties. The gel inside the leaves helps soothe and heal burns fast. It also resolves skin and hair issues.
This type of aloe has a unique look, with its leaves facing upwards towards the sky and beautiful spikes in greenish-yellow that reach up alongside them. The leaves are light green but turn a reddish-purple in Spring and Summer when they are dry, and the plump leaves contain gummy sap that has been used for thousands of years for a variety of cosmetic and medicinal purposes, making this plant valuable as well as beautiful.
27. Aloe Crosby’s Prolific Aloe (A. clypeolata)
This variety of Aloe is native to Australia and New Zealand. It grows up to 2 m tall and produces large, thick leaves. These leaves have a bright yellow color on their upper surface and a light green underside.
The leaves contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C. They’re also rich in minerals such as calcium, iron, and potassium.
A beautiful dwarf aloe, this plant has long green leaves that contain translucent teeth along its edges. It gets up to 12 inches high and 15 inches wide, and it has fleshy leaves that get redder when it is sunny and hot. Tubular, bright-orange flowers grow on the stalks, which can brighten up any garden. A hybrid aloe, it is deer-resistant and virtually disease-free, lending to its popularity.
28. Aloe Javanica Burm.f.
This tropical species was initially found in Indonesia, but now it’s cultivated worldwide. It grows up to 3 m tall and produces large thick leaves that are dark green above and pale green below.
Its gel is used in cosmetics and medicine due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
29. Aloe Barbifolia Mill.
Aloe Barbiflora is a perennial species native to Central and West Africa. It grows up 10 cm tall and produces small, thin leaves.
Its gel is used in cosmetics because of its ability to reduce inflammation and prevent scars.
30. Aloe Indica L.
This species is native to India and Sri Lanka. It grows up to 5 m tall and produces large green leaves covered in fine hairs.
Its gel is commonly used in cosmetic products because of its ability to relieve pain and promote cell regeneration.
31. Aloe Mollis Miller
This species is native to Southern Africa and grows up to 15 cm tall. The plant produces large, soft, hairy leaves. Its gel is used in cosmetics for its soothing and moisturizing effects.
32. Aloe Speciosa Miller
Aloe speciosa is a perennial species native to East Africa. It grows up 30 cm tall and produces large leaves that are covered in soft, short hairs.
Its gel has been used in traditional medicines since ancient times. Today it’s widely used in cosmetics due to its ability to improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin.
33. Guido Aloe (A. Guineense Retz.)
This species is native to West Africa. It grows 20 cm tall and produces large greenish leaves covered in soft, short, greyish hairs.
Its gel helps to repair and regenerate damaged skin tissues.
34. French Aloe (A. ferox Miller)
This type of aloe is native to South Africa. It grows up to 1.5 m tall and produces large fleshily leaves with a white interior.
It’s used in cosmetics because of its gel’s healing and regenerative properties.
35. African Aloe (A. Africana Lam.)
This type of aloe is native to Northern Africa. It grows up to 60 cm tall and produces large leathery leaves with a yellowish interior.
Its gel is often used in cosmetics because of its healing properties.
36. Sri Lankan Aloe (A. roxburghii Sond.)
This type of aloe is native to Sri Lanka. It grows 100 cm tall and produces large leafy stems covered in long, silky hair.
Its gel is widely used in cosmetics because of its ability to heal and protect against UV radiation.
37. Lace Aloe (A. filicaulis Schott)
This type of Aloe is native to Southern Europe and Asia Minor. It grows up to 90 cm tall and produces thin, hairy stems.
Its gel is commonly used in creams and ointments.
38. Aloe Barbadosensis Miller
This variety is native to the Caribbean and Central America. It grows up to 30 cm tall and produces large, fleshy leaves with a white interior and a sweet taste.
Its gel is commonly used in cosmetics because of its ability to moisturize and heal damaged tissue.
39. Green Aloe (A. schweinfurthii Engl.)
This type of Aloes is native to East Africa. It grows up 40 cm tall and produces large green leaves with a white interior surrounded by a red ring.
Its gel is mainly used in creams and salves.
40. Mauritius Aloe (A. elliptica Hook.f.)
This type of aloe is found in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, China, Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. It grows up to 80 cm tall and produces large fleshy leaves with a light yellow interior.
Its gel has been shown to have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties.
41. White Aloe (A. littoralis Boiss.)
This type of plant is native to South Africa. It grows up to 60 cm tall and produces large leaves with a white interior.
Its gel is primarily used in creams and body washes.
42. Ultenhage Aloe (A. ulteriectum A. Chev.)
This type of aloe is native to South Africa and Namibia. It grows up to 1 m tall and produces large, leathery leaves with a white or cream-colored interior.
Its gel is used in creams and shampoos because it helps repair damaged skin cells.
43. Yellow Aloe (A. arborescens Haw.)
This type of aloe is found in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Angola, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Mauritius. It grows up to 100 cm tall and produces large smooth leaves with a pale yellow interior.
Its juice is most often used as an ingredient in herbal teas.
44. Flexing Aloe (A. ferox Mill.)
This type of species is native to South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Madagascar, Seychelles, Réunion Island, and Mauritius. It reaches up to 3 m tall and produces large thick leaves with a dark reddish-brown interior.
Its gel and sap are used in creams and lotions.
45. Green Flowered Aloe (A. gerrardii F. Muell.)
This type of flowering aloe is native to southern Africa. It grows up to 10 m tall and produces large green flowers that bloom during summer.
It is grown commercially in some parts of South Africa for its flowers.
46. Pink Flowered Aloe (Aloe perryana Baker)
This type of aloe is native to South Africa, where it grows up to 2 m tall. Its pink flowers bloom during spring.
It is also cultivated in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, North America, and Asia.
47. Blue Aloe (Aloe brevibracteata Warb.)
This type of blue aloe is native to East Africa. It grows up to 40 cm tall and produces large, heart-shaped leaves with a bluish-green interior.
Its gel helps to treat cuts and abrasions.
48. White Aloe (Aloe nobilis L.)
This type of white aloe is native to the Mediterranean region. It grows up to 70 cm tall and produces large fleshy leaves with a whitish-grey interior.
Its gel is used in creams and ointments.
49. Grass Aloe (Aloe striatula Willd.)
This type of grass aloe is native to Central and Western Africa. It grows up to 1.5 m tall and produces large leaves with a light green interior.
Its juice and gel make excellent bases for creams and lotions due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
50. Yellow Aloe (Aloe arborescens Miller)
This type of yellow aloe is native to tropical Africa. It grows up to 25 cm tall and produces large leaves like those of a tree.
Its gel is sometimes used in creams and other skincare products.
51. Tiger Tooth Aloe (Aloe saponaria Dunal)
This type of tiger tooth aloe is native to Madagascar. It grows up to 5 m tall and produces large thick leaves with a brown interior.
Its gel and oil are used in creams.
The following species of aloe are not commonly available in nurseries. They are, however, found growing wild in many areas.
52. Green Aloe (Aloe luzulifolia Sond.)
This type of green aloe is native to southern Africa. It grows up to 10 cm tall and produces large rounded leaves with a dark green interior.
Its leaf gel is used in cremes and lotions.
53. Stinging Aloe (Aloe polyphylla var. aurantiaca Lam.)
This type of aloe is native to India. It grows up to 20 cm tall and produces small round leaves with a deep orange interior.
Its gel makes an excellent base for creams and lotion because it’s rich in vitamin E.
54. Thorny Aloe (Aloe spp.)
These thorns are usually found growing along roadsides or near water sources. They grow up to 2 m tall and produce long spiny leaves with a white interior.
They are often mistaken for cactus plants. The thorny aloes have very high levels of tannins, which give them a bitter taste. This bitterness is reduced when they’re boiled.
Their gel is used as a natural dye.
55. Aloe Barbata (Aloe barbata Mill.)
This type of aloe is native to tropical Asia. It grows up to 3 m tall and produces large thick leaves with a whitish-yellow interior.
Its gel contains anthraquinones that are used in creams and ointments.
56. Aloe Cameronii (Aloe cameronii Aiton)
This type of Cameron’s aloe is native to Australia. It grows up to 60 cm tall and produces large thin leaves with a light green interior.
Its gel can be used in creams and skincare products.
57. Aloe Australis (Aloe australis Mill.)
This type is native to Australia. It grows up to 10 cm tall and produces large, broad leaves with a dark green interior.
Its gel can be used in cream and lotions.
58. Aloe Petricola (Aloe petricola Baker)
This type of Aloe is native to South America. It grows up to 20 cm tall and produces large oval-shaped leaves with a brownish-red interior.
Its gel has antibacterial properties.
59. Aloe Saponaria (Saponaria officinalis L.)
This type of Saponaria is native to Europe. It grows up to 80 cm tall and produces large flat leaves with a pale yellow interior.
Its gel has been used in creams and beauty products.
60. Aloe Polyphylla (Polyphyllus Africanus)
This type of African aloe is native to tropical Africa. It grows up to 15 cm tall and produces large triangular leaves with a deep blue interior.
Its gel makes creams and lotions more effective against acne.
61. Aloe Plectranthi (Plectranthus scutellarioides)
This type of Plectranthus is native to Madagascar. It grows up to 25 cm tall and produces small rounded leaves with a white interior.
Its gel extracts have been used in creams for healing cuts and abrasions.
62. Aloe Perrottetiana (Perrottetia perrottetiana)
This type of Perrottetia is native to tropical Africa and grows up to 40 cm tall. It produces large narrow leaves with a red interior.
Its gel extract is used in creams for treating bruises and cuts.
Where does aloe vera originate from?
Aloe vera is a tropical plant, but there are actually hundreds of different varieties.
Each variety of aloe comes from a unique location, but the majority of aloe plants that Americans are familiar with come from Central America, the Eastern Ocean Islands, Madagascar, the Arabian Peninsula, and other parts of Africa.
Aloe plants do best in warm, dry regions.
What are the uses of aloe vera?
The most commonly known use for aloe is as a salve for burns. The sap or “gel” from the plant can be rubbed directly onto the skin in order to soothe skin irritations and first-degree burns, such as minor sunburns.
Aloe can also be mixed with water and consumed. Aloe water is often used to soothe upset stomachs.
What does it mean when aloe vera turns pink?
Just like people, aloe plants can also get sunburned! Aloe that is turning pink has likely been exposed to too much sun.
If possible, move the plant to a shadier area, then remove the damaged parts of the plant. Sunburnt aloe can be used as a salve or consumed. Be aware, however, that it might taste more sour than usual.
Does aloe vera prevent mosquito bites?
While aloe will not do much to help repel insects, it is often included in many insect sprays because it can help to soothe and nourish the skin. Aloe can also help to heal skin faster if you are bitten by an insect.
Can aloe vera freeze?
Freezing aloe vera is possible, but there is a method to it. Cut the leaves completely off of the plant, then strip away the exterior with a sharp knife.
Use a spoon to scoop out the inner gel, then place this gel in a freezer-safe container. Aloe can be frozen for years, but it is best used within six months to a year.