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The aloe vera plant family is as ancient as the human civilization. Although it was originally grown in Africa, it can be found across the world due to its versatility. The aloe vera genus of plants has more than 200 species. 13 types of aloe vera are considered really beneficial for human consumption. Its excellent antiseptic and cosmetic properties combined with its high nutritional value has made it very essential to mankind.

A visual way of classifying the aloe family is by differentiating them based on the stem structure.

The Three Groups Of Aloe Vera

1. Acauleas

This group contains plants without stems and have short, succulent and thick leaves arranged in a rosette-like manner. The most common aloe vera (aloe barbadensis miller) belongs to this group and so do aloe saponaria and aloe aristata.

Aloe barbadensis miller

This type of aloe is frequently spotted in gardens, parks, and forests across the world. This stemless plant can grow up to 60-100 cm. The fleshy, thick leaves have serrated margins and are filled with gel. Flowering is noticed only in summer and the flowers serve as nectar-hubs for bees and birds. It has a wide range of health benefits from boosting the immune system to anti-aging effects.

Aloe aristata

Aloe aristata is also known as ‘lace aloe’ and looks similar to Aloe vera except for its unique white speckles. When in bloom, large orange flowers appear that are irresistible for birds and insects. It requires only little effort to cultivate and hence it is the right choice for gardens.

Aloe maculata

Known as ‘soap aloe’, due to the soapy nature of its gel, its unique feature is the ability to produce pollen in the presence of smoke. It can thrive in arid and dry climate due to its resilient nature. An infusion of the gel from the plant is used to treat conjunctivitis, boils, sores, bruises, and rheumatic joints.

2. Subcauleas

The members of this group have a short and visible trunk. Aloe succotrina and aloe chinensis are the members of this group.

Aloe succotrina

Often spotted in the Mediterranean climate, aloe succotrina grows in cluster of at least 1-2 meters in diameter. It blooms in winter and gives rise to fiery red shaded flowers. For centuries, it’s been used as a remedy for healing intestinal irritation and stomach ulcers.

Aloe chinensis

Chinensis is a popular variety of aloe plant which grows up to a height of 60cm when mature. It can even grow in cold wintry weather and requires very less maintenance.

3. Cauleas

This group of aloe consists of tall plants with woody trunks and branches like aloe ferox and aloe arborescens.

Aloe ferox

Also known as ‘cape aloe’ or ‘tap aloe,’ the aloe ferox can easily reach up to 10ft in height. Its extracts have unique laxative properties are often given as a remedy for constipation.The seeds of this plant are rich in fatty acids like linoleic, stearic and oleic acids which are excellent for skin nourishment.

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