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The genus Aloes from the grass tree family consists of about 500 species. One of the most well-known species is aloe vera or real aloe. Due to the great diversity of species, identification is not always easy.

Within the genus Aloe there are about 500 different species

Appearance of True Aloe

Aloe vera has thick fleshy, lanceolate leaves with thorny edges. They are approx. 30-60 cm long, spotted blue-green or light and arranged in a rosette at the base of the trunk. New leaves emerge from the center of the plant while the outer leaves gradually die off. This allows very old aloe plants to form a stem over the years. In spring, the yellow, red or even orange flowers appear on inflorescences that protrude high above the foliage.

Biodiversity of aloe plants

Aloes form their own plant genus, which counts around 500 species. With this diversity, it is not always easy to distinguish between the individual species. In our latitudes, several of them are cultivated as houseplants. In addition to the well-known aloe vera, these are some other types of aloe:

  • Aloe arborescens (tree aloe, eternal aloe)
  • Aloe ferox (Cape Aloe, Wild Aloe)
  • Aloe variegata (tiger aloe),
  • Aloe erinacea,
  • aloe aristata,
  • Aloe plicatilis,
  • Aloe Morijensis,
  • Aloe dichotoma.

Beware of agaves

When agave is confused with aloe vera, there can be unpleasant consequences. Both types of plants do indeed look similar. The main difference is not only that the agave dies after flowering, but above all in the active ingredients contained in the respective plant.

While the juice of the agave is mainly used to produce the Mexican national drink pulque and its fiber to obtain sisal, the gel contained in the leaves of aloe vera is a tried and tested skin care product and is also used to treat various skin diseases. If you want to relieve your sunburn with a cut leaf of an agave, you will find to your chagrin that the burning gets even worse.


All commercially available aloe plants are extremely easy to care for, making them a good choice for people who are short on time. If you forget to water, aloe won't bother you thanks to its storage organs.

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