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What is Aloe Vera ?

The semi-tropical plant,  has a long and illustrious history dating from biblical times. It has been mentioned throughout recorded history and given a high ranking as an all-purpose herbal plant. Aloe’s thick, tapered, spiny leaves grow from a short stalk near ground level. It is not a cactus, but a member of the tree lily family, know as Aloe Barbadensis.
There are over 250 species of aloe grown around the world. Of these, it is the ALoe Barbadensis Miller that has captivated the attention of man. Known more commonly as Aloe Vera, which in Latin means ‘True Aloe’, in Spanish called Savila, in Sanscrit it is Chrita-Kumari, in Chinese it is, in Portuguese it is Erva Babosa, in India it is Musabbar, in Jamaica it is called Single Bible, in Japanese it is Isha-Irasu, in Vitnamese it is called Lo Hoi, in Malaysia it is Lydia Byah.
The leaves of the Aloe plant grow from the base in the rosette pattern. Mature plants can grow as tall as 2 and a half inches to 4 feet with the average being around 28 to 36 inches in length. Each plant usually has 12-16 leaves that, when mature, may weigh up to three pounds. The plants can be harvested every 6 to 8 weeks by removing 3 to 4 leaves per plant.
The  plant is grown in warm tropical areas and cannot survive freezing temperatures. In the United States, most of the Aloe is grown in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, Florida and Southern California. Internationally, Aloe can be found in Mexico, the Pacific Rim countries, India, South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Australia and Africa.
The thick, succulent leaves conceal an inner gel that has been used for centuries to maintain health and enhance beauty. Flourishing in warm, dry climates, both the Greeks and Egyptians valued it highly. Then, as the centers of civilization moved to cooler climates, the harvesting of this unusual plant declined and its benefit were forgotten.

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