When it comes to Aloe, Agave, Cacti and most Succulents, make no mistake size is not the decider, the little guys can be as tough as the big guys. Here on our farm in the Eastern Cape we have an extensive variety and distinguishing between them without some botanical no how can leave your pink wellies in a twist, well mine at least!
First of all one needs to understand the terminology… yes yes tomato tomatoe for some (me to) but it is important if like us you utilize every resource nature has provided, and believe my untrained green fingers, it comes in handy.
Because of the diversity and that we are still in the process of ensuring we accurately identify and classify our plants, this article will be a broad spectrum introduction to the more common varieties. Over the next few weeks and I am sure in future articles, I will be peeking into the undergrowth and making more formal introductions. In the interim I will also be uploading a host of photos taken on our farm of the green treasures found.
I do not believe that I have ever met anyone who is not familiar with the word Aloe. First thing that comes to mind… I am guessing..
Thirdly… Did you know that there is a difference between aloes. Well good if you did because I certainly did not!
Aloe Vera VS Aloe Ferox
Now basically what it comes down to is ALOIN. This is the sap that the plant is mainly utilized for and is extracted for the its many beneficial uses. However…be careful should you decide to harvest some aloin, as it is a potent ingredient. It can heal your wounds or send you running to the potty! In Aloe Ferox the sap is found in rows of thick capillaries just under the skin which is easy to remove. In Aloe Vera the plant has softer leaves and the sap is found throughout the leave. The method of extraction from Aloe Vera is commonly by carbon filters. Aloe Ferox has an abundance of natural sugars which makes it thicker and more gelatinous. However the biological similarities of both species give credence to theories that both are capable of the same thing so to speak.
Feel free to comment or leave your own suggestions on how to cultivate and extract Aloe Vera/Ferox. I look forward to reading all about your experience and sharing ours with you. During the next couple of weeks I will be looking into Agave as well as the rest of the succulents on our farm. Happy Gardening.