Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Aloe vera (syn. barbadensis) in Horticulture Magazine

Aloes get the attention this month in Horticulture Magazine. The author (Daniel J. Hinkley) mentions several aloes which are hardy in the Northwest, especially if given good drainage, and he mentions Aloe vera as his entry point for discovering the many other species of interest.
The genus Aloe merits wider use, be it in a potted collection or in mixed plantings. More than any other plant, aloe vera is an icon of the 1960s and '70s (at least within the realm of legality).
Our nursery doesn't grow Aloe vera for sale, since it's readily available at the local supermarket, but it's an interesting case in point. The name is itself confusing. If you look it up in various reference sources, it has a long list of synonyms. The most common synonymy is with "barbadensis". Which is the correct species name? I've read authorities who come up with differing conclusions, but the trend now seems to be to accept Aloe vera and relegate Aloe barbadensis to synonymy.

And then there's the plant. Some of the plants sold have spots on the leaves, others don't. Some are quite large, others very small. What's what? Let's begin with the fact that the juvenile form and the adult form are quite different (juveniles=spots, adults=usually not). And then there's the matter of culture, how they're grown. And finally, there are probably quite a few hybrids circulating out there.

Whatever, this is among the most widely distributed of succulent plants and a good starting point for anyone, due to their ease of growing. More later.


  1. How well does aloe vera plant do outside on the Oregon Coast in the winter

  2. I wouldn't expect Aloe vera to be hardy outdoors anywhere on the Oregon Coast, with the possible exception of the "Banana Belt" further south (Brookings area). Damage generally occurs at 32F. There are some other Aloes though which might do better.