Aloes are found from Arabia in the North to Madagascar in the
East and Southern Africa in the South. Gilbert Westacott Reynolds documented over 300
species of aloes (about 170 species are found in South Africa). Aloes occur naturally only
in Africa, in Mexico, where Aloe vera escaped from cultivation, it has been
Aloes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the small grass aloes to the huge A.
dichotoma and A. pillansii. Aloes are well adapted for harsh climates and they
can survive in mountains, gasslands, deserts and on beaches . Both the spiky leaves and
the bitter tasting sap prevents animals and insects from eating it. The waxy leaves have
sunken pores which prevents water loss. The downward angled flowers are borne on a simple
or multi-branched inflorescence. One of the genus' weakness is a poorly developed root
system. Aloes propgate by seeds that are designed for wind dispersal and some species have
a high degree of vegetative propagation (they offset quite easily).
Aloes are well known succulents, not just for their beauty but for their medicinal
properties as well. You could find aloe vera in skin-care products, hair shampoo, vitamins