Aloe Definitions

Aloe Definitions

The American Heritage Dictionaries

Any of various chiefly African plants of the genus Aloe, having rosettes of succulent, often spiny-margined leaves and long stalks bearing yellow, orange, or red tubular flowers.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Any shrubby succulent plant of the genus Aloe, in the lily family. Native to Africa, most of the 200 or so species have a rosette of leaves at the base but no stem. Several are cultivated as ornamentals.

The juice of some species, especially the popular potted plant known as true aloe (Aloe vera), is used as an ingredient in cosmetics, as a purgative, and as a treatment for burns.

Columbia University Press – Encyclopedia

aloe (ălō) [Gr.], any species of the genus Aloe, succulent perennials of the family Lilaceae (lily family), native chiefly to the warm dry areas of S Africa and also to tropical Africa, but cultivated elsewhere.

The juice of aloe leaves contains the purgative aloin. Today the various drug-yielding species, e.g., A. vera and A. chinensis, are still used for their traditional medicinal properties as well as for X-ray-burn treatment, insect repellent, and a transparent pigment used in miniature painting; cords and nets are made from the leaf fiber. In ancient times the juice was used in embalming.

A Muslim, on return from the pilgrimage to Mecca, hangs an aloe above the door. The American and false aloes are agaves, amaryllis family group that is the American counterpart in habit and general appearance to the true aloes.

There is evolutionary evidence that the aloes and the agaves should be considered a single separate family, the Agavaceae. The Scriptural aloes is unrelated. Aloe is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Liliales, family Liliaceae.


Aloë, also written Aloe, is a genus containing about four hundred species of flowering succulent plants.

They occur naturally in Africa, especially South Africa’s Cape Province and the mountains of tropical Africa, and neighbouring areas such as Madagascar, the Arabian peninsula and islands off Africa.

According to APG II system, of 2003, it belongs to the family Asphodelaceae, in the monocots. In the past it has also been assigned to family Aloaceae, Liliaceae, etc.

Members of the closely allied genera Gasteria and Haworthia, which have a similar mode of growth, are also sometimes popularly known as aloes. Note that the plant sometimes called “American aloe”, Agave americana, belongs to a different family, namely Agavaceae.

The plants are stiff and rugged, consisting mainly of a rosette of large, thick, fleshy leaves. The leaves are generally lance-shaped with a sharp apex and a spiny margin. Aloe flowers are small, tubular, and yellow or red -depending the variety- and are borne on densely clustered, simple or branched leafless stems.

Many common varieties of Aloe are seemingly stemless, with the rosette growing directly at ground level; other varieties may have a branched or un-branched stem from which the fleshy leaves spring. They vary in color from grey to bright green and are sometimes striped or mottled.