Thursday, August 31, 2006

Aloe ferox medicinal aloe with photos
Aloe ferox has a very wide habitat distribution in South Africa where this aloe has been used for its medicinal qualities for millennia. Only the gel of Aloe ferox (or any other aloe) should be used by the novice. The sap or bitter yellow exude originating from the green outer cells, can be used for its purgative effects, but it is not recommended as there are better and safer laxatives available.

This scene is to the left of the Breede river photo above.

How to prepare the gel

Cut the leaf in portions and peel off the green outer part. The gel is in the translucent leaf pulp. It is not bitter, in fact it is near to tasteless with only a slight "fresh" taste.

Fresh gel on the skin has a cool feeling. The gel is absorbed by the skin cells in seconds with only a thin silky layer that remains on the skin, giving the skin a
lovely silk smooth texture. The gel revitalizes the cells and the layer protects the skin on the outside.
Store the gel in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days only. It is better to freeze the gel in cubes for use and then remove a cube as needed.
The whole leaf can be stored in a cool dry place for a long time, even weeks. Cut off a portion of the leaf as needed.

The gel of most aloes (species or hybrids) can be used, but most aloes does not have much gel. Aloe barbadensis (known as Aloe vera) is well known for its gel. The gel is not as consentrated as the gel of Aloe ferox, but that does not matter. It is easy to cultivate Aloe vera from offshoots.
Aloe vera has been used for about 3000 years. The habitat of this aloe could be Arabia, but it has been cultivated for so long that the origin of this aloe has been lost in time.

Another South African aloe that is very good is Aloe maculata, also known as Aloe saponaria or the common name "soap aloe". The hybrid Aloe maculata x Aloe striata grows faster than Aloe maculata and it has the same high quality gel. The downside is that it is a much smaller plant than A.ferox or A.barbadensis, thus the gel is strictly speaking more expensive, but the gel is the best.

I take a teaspoon gel (mixed with any food or drink, it is tasteless) daily to build my immune system. I also give it to my pregnant cats in their food. I do not like to suggest anything to be taken internally, so please do it on you own risk. Do not take the green skin or sap! A quick rinse after you peeled the gel will remove the sap. A little sap would not hurt. If the gel taste bitter, then there is sap on it. eee-yuk .... do not believe the old tale that it has to taste awful to be good!

Aloe ferox is a large heavy aloe but it blooms from a young age at a relative small size. This easy growing aloe is an excellent focal point for a garden.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Aloe framesii in bloom for the last time ?
Visiting Aloe framesii in bloom each winter and Aloe mitriformis each summer, was on our agenda every year for at least ten years. Aloe framesii blooms the same time as an assortment of winter flowering plants on a small hill in StHelena Bay.
StHelena Bay is on the south western coast of South Africa, where Vasco da Gama landed all those years ago, in his search for the southern point of Africa.

The outings to this quiet bay were always refreshing, but now there is a large wound in "our" hill! That is only the start, the whole hill has been cut up and sold for luxury holiday homes. The sea shore has been bull dozed together with many plants - mesembs, stapeliads, caudiciform plants, euphorbias and more. I do not expect propress to come to halt or something like that, but could Nature Conservation or some other organization not contact plant lovers to remove those plants first ? They fine people for removing plants, but bulldozing? Having said that, I am not going to shout around. My motto is if you do not like it, do something about it, or keep quiet. To tell the truth, I do not have the motivation to organize something so that plants could be saved in future. The people of this country seems to have so many problems, nobody wants more on their shoulders. There may be an energetic nature lover reading this blog who is willing to take on the challenge.

Looking down on progress. Many jobs are created and a lot of people need that badly. If I think of children and families having a better life then it eases the loss.

Aloe framesii in bloom. It is a lovely blue aloe. In the summer when all is dry it seems to merge into the blue granite rocks. In winter it needs to be seen by the pollinators and the flowers show off well.

Aloe framesii center front shared this hill with Aloe mitriformis to the back left and right. Aloe mitriformis blooms early summer and Aloe framesii blooms in winter which enabled the two species to grow side by side without hybridizing.