Aloe plants are known for their imposing leaf rosettes. There are nearly 500 different types of these succulents. These include both edible and poisonous varieties. The most famous representative among the countless varieties is undisputedly the edible aloe vera. In order to recognize and differentiate the plants correctly, we have listed some known and lesser-known types of aloe plants as small guide.
- Edible Types of Aloe Plants
- Poisonous Types of Aloe Plants
- Aloe africana
- Aloe aristata
- Aloe brevifolia
- Aloe polyphylla
- Aloe striata
- Aloe variegata
- Aloe aculeata
- Aloe broomii
- Aloe chabaudii
- Aloe cryptopoda
- Aloe grandidentata
- Aloe humilis
- Aloe koenenii
- Aloe lineata
- Aloe peglerae
- Aloe saponaria (Aloe maculata)
- Plants that Look Like Aloe
Edible Types of Aloe Plants
Note: Unpeeled leaves of the aloes are not edible. They contain high levels of anthranoids, which are toxic. Likewise, gel should not necessarily be prepared from the leaves yourself. Even with the most careful separation of the leaf shell, aloin can get into the gel. This ingredient is also toxic.
- Bush-like growth
- 60 to 80 cm long inflorescence
- Bright red to scarlet flower color
Aloe arborescens is not only edible, but also approved as a medicinal plant. The juice from the leaves can heal burns.
This tree aloe is also known under the name Cape aloe or bitter aloe. It has its origin in the arid regions of South Africa. The trunk can easily reach a height of 3 meters. It is covered with pale green, slightly reddish tinged leaves. They are thick-fleshed and have brown, hard thorns on the edges. The top and bottom of the leaf have thorny spines. The leaf length varies between 80 and 100 centimeters.
- Flower clusters up to 130 cm high
- Branched inflorescences
- Bright scarlet to orange flower color
The thickened juice of the leaves is used as a remedy.
- 60 cm high flower stem
- Tubular flowers
- Flower color yellow to orange
- Flowering April to August
The gel inside the leaf is particularly suitable for consumption. It is found in various industrially manufactured foods such as yogurt.
The plants are also known for their medicinal properties. The ingredients of the plants are also used in the cosmetics industry, for example in body lotions and creams. They are also used in everyday objects such as panty liners or cotton swabs.
How to grow an aloe vera without roots
Poisonous Types of Aloe Plants
The majority of the aloe species are unsuitable for consumption because of their toxicity.
As the name suggests, this representative comes from Africa. Their very spreading leaves, which are arranged in a rosette, are particularly striking. The leaf surface is bare, underneath there are reddish thorns and the tip of the leaf is also covered with red thorns. The trunk is upright and can reach a height of 4 meters.
- Branched growth
- Candle-like inflorescences
- Densely occupied
- Flower color bright yellow to orange
- 50 cm high inflorescence
- Flowering in May
- Orange flowers
- Only last a few days
- Inflorescences 30 cm long
- The flower color is deep red
This Spiral aloe does not form a stem. As the name suggests, the leaves are arranged in a spiral. They are somewhat egg-shaped to elongated and tapering to a point at their ends. They are arranged in five spiral rows. The leaves are green with a purple tip. It is one of the few species that can survive a few freezing temperatures over a short period of time.
- Densely branched inflorescence
- Height 50 to 60 cm
- Flower color light red to deep salmon red
It is a stem-forming Aloe species. This consists of several parts. There are sometimes up to five shoots. They can very often be covered with dead leaves. Otherwise the leaves are beautifully colored light green.
- Flowers appear in summer
- Buds inconspicuous
- Coral red flower color
- Hence the name “Coral Aloe”
This is a dwarf form of the aloes. It reaches a height of 40 cm. However, it must be said that it can reach a height of 4 meters in its home. The 10 to 15 cm long and lanceolate, fleshy leaves are arranged around the trunk like roof tiles. At first they stand upright and as they get older they tend to be curled up. The leaf color is green with irregular, white transverse bands. The first flowers appear with a plant size of 10 to 15 cm. The stem can easily tip over if there are numerous flowers.
- 30 cm high flower stem
- Flowering April to May
- Flower color pale pink to scarlet red
These plants differ from others of their kind in that they have no trunk. They are rather creeping and growing with a length of up to 70 centimeters. The large rosette of leaves with thick, thorny leaves is very striking. They are up to 60 centimeters long and approximately 12 centimeters wide.
- Up to 100 cm high inflorescence
- Bright lemon yellow in color
These representatives of the plant genus originally come from South Africa. The plants can reach a height of up to one meter. The trunk is relatively short and has leaves that are 30 centimeters wide. These narrow towards the leaf base. There they are only 10 centimeters wide.
- Inflorescences up to 150 cm high
- Flower color whitish to lemon yellow
- Leaf tip brownish in color
This species has its origin in Africa. It is relatively undemanding. It usually grows in small groups. The green leaves are framed by a reddish-green border.
- 60 to 80 cm high inflorescence
- branched growing
- Bright brick red flower color
As a rule, these aloes always grow individually. There is also no trunk. The leaves are upright and slightly pointed at the end. They can be 60 to 90 centimeters long.
- Branched inflorescence
- Height up to 175 cm
- The flowers are bright orange to scarlet red
- Flower slightly pointed yellowish
The home of these aloes is in Botswana. Usually they grow in groups. The green and white spotted leaves stand together in a dense rosette. The relatively large teeth on the leaf margins are impressive.
- 90 cm high inflorescence
- Branched growing
- Flower color pale red to whitish
These stemless aloes are native to South Africa. They have a short stature. The narrow, very fleshy and up to 30 centimeters long leaves are arranged in a rosette. The strong green leaves are covered with white, small warts. The plants have an ornamental value.
- Inflorescences up to 40 cm high
- 3 cm long flowers in racemes
- Flowering March to April
- Coral red with yellow tips
This type of aloe has its origin in North Africa. The trunk is usually creeping and growing. The upright leaves are very slender. In young plants, they are spotted white and turn green with age.
- Branched inflorescence
- Height up to 120 cm
- Flower color deep carmine
This variety is originally from South Africa. At a young age it grows close to the ground. A trunk only forms with increasing age. The plant can reach a height of 2 meters. The leaves are relatively thin, but very long. They are light green to yellowish in color and there are red spines on the edges.
- 75 to 100 cm long stem
- Salmon pink flower color
They can grow individually or in small groups. Usually the trunk is very short and prostrate. The blue-green spiked leaves are slightly curved inward. This makes them look a bit spherical in shape. The Aloe pegterae is one of the endangered species.
- 40 cm high inflorescence
- Flower color creamy white to pale red
Aloe saponaria (Aloe maculata)
This species is also known as soap aloe. The plant parts contain a gel that can be used to wash hands or laundry. The aloe species can grow individually or sometimes in dense groups.
- 40 to 100 cm high inflorescence
- Flower color varies from salmon pink to orange and yellow to red
The gel of the plants is used in the manufacture of cosmetic products. Consumption should be avoided.
Plants that Look Like Aloe
There are a few plants that are commonly mistaken for aloe due to their appearance. Among them are:
The agave is a succulent that looks like aloe. This has a short trunk and lanceolate, thick-fleshed leaves. They become up to 2 meters long and 25 centimeters wide. Their edges also have thorns. In contrast to aloe, the juice of the agave is poisonous and irritates the skin. If agave is confused with aloe, it can have unpleasant consequences. Both types of plants actually look alike.
Aloe vs Agave
If you compare both plants, you will immediately discover the differences:
- The aloe leaf contains a thick gel, whereas the agave has fibers.
- The leaves of the aloe grow visibly from the center of the plant, the new agave leaves grow in the outer area under older specimens.
- A three-year-old aloe flowers twice a year, with the flowers growing sideways. The agave takes years to bloom.
- The aloe does not tolerate cold and is cultivated as an indoor plant. The agave can withstand temperatures down to -20 degrees.
- The juice of the aloe leaves contains substances that care for the skin and can even be used internally. A sweetener is made from agave juice, as is the Mexican national drink “pulque”. Sisal is made from its fibers. The juice in the leaves contains toxins and shouldn’t get on the skin or in wounds.
Although aloes and cacti are not botanically related, they have a lot in common. Both belong to the group of succulents, have thorns and, due to their well-developed water storage organs, are able to survive for a long time without water.
The aloes are a separate genus from the family of grass tree plants (Xanthorrhoeaceae) with a total of around 500 species. The cactus plants form their own family with over 100 genera and between 1500 and 1800 species. The cacti belong to the so-called stem succulents, i.e. they store water in their sprouts. The aloes, on the other hand, use their leaves as water storage organs, they are leaf succulents.
The gel contained in the leaves of aloe vera is valued for its skin-caring and regenerating ingredients. While the wild aloe species grow in the deserts and rocky regions of Africa and on the offshore islands, the areas under cultivation for extracting the gel from aloe vera can be found all over the world. The wild cacti occur naturally only on the American continent.
Aloes and cacti have even more in common:
- like all succulents they like it warm, bright and dry,
- they prefer sunny locations ,
- do not like excessive moisture and
- produce beautiful flowers under good conditions,
- the propagation is performed at both succulents by cuttings.