Aloe vera??

Use this forum to discuss matters relating to Aloe, Gasteria, Haworthia and related species. This is where one posts unknown plant photos for ID help.

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RCDS66
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Aloe vera??

#1

Post by RCDS66 »

I have known the plant shown in the pics below as Aloe vera since I was a child. It is locally called 'Kawar Gandal'. My grandmother used to make a pudding of Aloe vera that was supposedly very good for health (perhaps her grandmother told her this :) ). My late mother, when she developed arthritis used Aloe vera in various forms and it worked well for her. My son uses Aloe vera in his home made organic shampoo that doesn't have any soap content and he feels Aloe vera keeps his hair long and strong. I eat Aloe vera regularly, making a sweet pudding of it.... etc etc
The plant that we call Aloe vera is has white spots and orange flowers. It was only after joining this forum that I came to know that what we have been calling Aloe vera is actually not Aloe vera but a hybrid or a closely related specie. The real Aloe vera doesn't have spots and has yellow flowers. OK.... this is understood.
Now have a look at the plant below that grows everywhere in my house (Around 50 plants at different places). We call it 'Kawar Gandal' in Urdu language which means Aloe vera. What is this plant if it is not Aloe vera? Is it a hybrid of Aloe vera or a different specie in genus Aloe? Any information will be highly appreciated.
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Re: Aloe vera??

#2

Post by mcvansoest »

The short answer: it is complicated.

There are a variety of possibilities possibly something that has become called Aloe chinensis, but I think the origins of that plant are also not as well known and I personally am not sure if that actually came with those type of flowers - at one point in time I convinced myself it did so I called my not Aloe vera that I got as Aloe vera plants Aloe chinensis.

There is also something called Aloe eumassawana that looks very similar to that and I have started thinking that what I have is actually that, but I am clearly not sure.

I am hoping some of the Aloe experts will chime in who may have the most updated version of what is what when it came as Aloe vera, but is not actually Aloe vera, which it most definitely is not.

Plants that grow to look like this get sold as Aloe vera all over the place including here. Since it is clearly also a medicinal Aloe maybe that is why it got stuck with this label.
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Re: Aloe vera??

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Post by eremophila »

This is the way I understand it:

Proper, scientifically named Aloe vera is a larger grey plant with dense yellow flowers related to Aloe porphyrostachys and other Arabian species.

Aloe eumassawana is a medium sized plant from the Red Sea coast that was long ago known to be medicinal and pieces of it have been planted along other coasts by seafarers for centuries to be used when needed. It is the plant some call Aloe chinensis and Aloe barbadensis. It has found its way to the coasts of Africa, Madagascar, the Caribbean islands and beyond.
Of course, the big grey, yellow flowered Aloe vera has found its way around too! In some places, they’ve hybridized!

There is also another species called Aloe officinalis from Arabia that is probably medicinal and is different from Aloe eumassawana. Unfortunately, the term “officinalis” translates roughly to “useful” and that term has been applied to Aloe vera, Aloe eumassawana and the actual scientific Aloe officinalis! What a mess!

The further complication is that Aloe Vera is a cosmopolitan name used for a couple equally cosmopolitan species that can be applied to the skin, as well as just about any plant with a rosette of succulent leaves and a spike of colorful (or not) flowers.
For example:
A group of tourists driving along the coast of the Mediterranean might see a big patch of Agave and say “look at all that Aloe Vera!”

Mildred’s daughter Esther comes home from the nursery with a cute little Haworthia and mom says, “That’s the smallest Aloe Vera I’ve ever seen!”

Billy Bob and Martha Jane come inside from their vacation rental in Malibu and as they look out the window to take in the view, they notice a big Aloidendron ‘Hercules’ planted out by the pool and Billy Bob says, “that must be one of those Aloe Vera trees I keep seeing on the social medias.”

So, as you can see, it’s a bit of a mess. At the end of the day, call it what you like. We can’t all be botanists after all! :)
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Re: Aloe vera??

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Post by mcvansoest »

eremophila wrote: Tue Dec 05, 2023 2:18 pm This is the way I understand it:

Proper, scientifically named Aloe vera is a larger grey plant with dense yellow flowers related to Aloe porphyrostachys and other Arabian species.

Aloe eumassawana is a medium sized plant from the Red Sea coast that was long ago known to be medicinal and pieces of it have been planted along other coasts by seafarers for centuries to be used when needed. It is the plant some call Aloe chinensis and Aloe barbadensis. It has found its way to the coasts of Africa, Madagascar, the Caribbean islands and beyond.
Of course, the big grey, yellow flowered Aloe vera has found its way around too! In some places, they’ve hybridized!

There is also another species called Aloe officinalis from Arabia that is probably medicinal and is different from Aloe eumassawana. Unfortunately, the term “officinalis” translates roughly to “useful” and that term has been applied to Aloe vera, Aloe eumassawana and the actual scientific Aloe officinalis! What a mess!

The further complication is that Aloe Vera is a cosmopolitan name used for a couple equally cosmopolitan species that can be applied to the skin, as well as just about any plant with a rosette of succulent leaves and a spike of colorful (or not) flowers.
For example:
A group of tourists driving along the coast of the Mediterranean might see a big patch of Agave and say “look at all that Aloe Vera!”

Mildred’s daughter Esther comes home from the nursery with a cute little Haworthia and mom says, “That’s the smallest Aloe Vera I’ve ever seen!”

Billy Bob and Martha Jane come inside from their vacation rental in Malibu and as they look out the window to take in the view, they notice a big Aloidendron ‘Hercules’ planted out by the pool and Billy Bob says, “that must be one of those Aloe Vera trees I keep seeing on the social medias.”

So, as you can see, it’s a bit of a mess. At the end of the day, call it what you like. We can’t all be botanists after all! :)
Thank you! I had forgotten about my Aloe officinalis phase.... LOL... What I will say is that both Aloe vera and chinensis/eumassawana appear to be pretty rock solid here even in this last summer just given some shade. So while especially chinensis is not all that spectacular inflorescence wise I am very happy to grow both.
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Re: Aloe vera??

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Post by RCDS66 »

I can now see that it is actually quite complicated :roll: Did some research and other than Aloe vera var. chinensis, also came across synonyms like Aloe barbadensis, Aloe perfoliata, Aloe indica and few more. So it is quite a confusion actually. But one thing is for sure that what I have grown for years as Aloe vera is NOT Aloe vera. It is something else but yet not clear what it is.
Unfortunately, could not find any threads on Aloe eumassawana, Aloe officinalis, Aloe chinensis, Aloe barbadenis, Aloe perfoliate etc on this forum. Probably they are not properly recognised Aloe species! Will keep reading and researching this......

Thanks for a comprehensive input guys. Enlightened..... :)
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Re: Aloe vera??

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Post by mcvansoest »

I think Aloe eumassawana is new and obscure enough (relatively speaking) - there was an Aloe massawana - that is another story - that it may just not have an entry here.

Some info regarding Aloe eumassawana from the Huntington: https://media.huntington.org/ISI/ISI2018/2018-08.html

If you can get your hands on it, Aloe: the Definite guide is the book to get - I think there is an e-version now the print version is long out of print.
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Re: Aloe vera??

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Post by RCDS66 »

mcvansoest wrote: Tue Dec 05, 2023 9:59 pm I think Aloe eumassawana is new and obscure enough (relatively speaking) - there was an Aloe massawana - that is another story - that it may just not have an entry here.

Some info regarding Aloe eumassawana from the Huntington: https://media.huntington.org/ISI/ISI2018/2018-08.html

If you can get your hands on it, Aloe: the Definite guide is the book to get - I think there is an e-version now the print version is long out of print.
Thanks a ton for the guidance mcvansoest. It's a very useful link on Aloe eumassawana but I am surpised that A.eumassawana is somewhat ignored in bulk of the literature. An Aloe: The Definite Gudie is certainly on wish list now. Would love to get a print version though.
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Re: Aloe vera??

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Post by eremophila »

mcvansoest wrote: Tue Dec 05, 2023 9:59 pm I think Aloe eumassawana is new and obscure enough (relatively speaking) - there was an Aloe massawana - that is another story - that it may just not have an entry here.

Some info regarding Aloe eumassawana from the Huntington: https://media.huntington.org/ISI/ISI2018/2018-08.html

If you can get your hands on it, Aloe: the Definite guide is the book to get - I think there is an e-version now the print version is long out of print.
I have the Huntington eumassawana and the timeless/ageless “chinensis” plant growing here and they’re identical in both form and flower. So I’m at peace with “chinensis” being eumassawana anymore.
Interestingly I also have this hybrid between the two that I found at an old, crumbling roadside stop here some years ago. It’s a vera looking plant with more greenish leaves and flowers as dense as vera but orange like eumassawana.
When I was a kid in the 80s, I remember there being a building with a faux Spanish mission facade and a short bell tower at this stop, but now it’s just a boarded up shack and a faded sign near the road with a few railroad ties laid together like they were a garden bed at some point. The desert is really taking over this spot again and had those plants not been blooming, I wouldn’t have paid it any mind. Not sure if the aloes were there back then or were maybe planted between 1986 and now. Serendipitous either way.
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Re: Aloe vera??

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Post by RCDS66 »

eremophila wrote: Thu Dec 07, 2023 12:01 pm I have the Huntington eumassawana and the timeless/ageless “chinensis” plant growing here and they’re identical in both form and flower. So I’m at peace with “chinensis” being eumassawana anymore.
Interestingly I also have this hybrid between the two that I found at an old, crumbling roadside stop here some years ago. It’s a vera looking plant with more greenish leaves and flowers as dense as vera but orange like eumassawana.
This is an interesting observation. Thanks for the input eremophila.
Does your chinensis or eumassawana look like the pics that I have posted above? Can you post the closeup pics of both your chinensis and eumassawana?
Thanks
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Re: Aloe vera??

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Post by eremophila »

Keep in mind, “chinensis” isn’t more than an outdated and erroneous name as any aloe that is found in China was brought there by people.

With that in mind, “chinensis” = eumassawana, and if I had to make an educated guess, I’d say your plant is the regular eumassawana that’s made its way around the globe thanks to people.

Here are some pics of my eumassawana from Huntington and the common one found around the arid parts of the US. They don’t flower for a couple months still, so I can’t offer any flower pics just yet. One is in a bit more shade with the sun being low in winter, so it’s a softer green at the moment.
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Aloe eumassawana (‘chinensis’)
Aloe eumassawana (‘chinensis’)
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Aloe eumassawana (Huntington)
Aloe eumassawana (Huntington)
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Re: Aloe vera??

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Post by RCDS66 »

eremophila wrote: Fri Dec 08, 2023 1:52 pm With that in mind, “chinensis” = eumassawana, and if I had to make an educated guess, I’d say your plant is the regular eumassawana that’s made its way around the globe thanks to people.
Thanks for the input eremophila and the one I have does look like Aloe eumassawana. I will change the captions to Aloe eumassawana. :U
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Re: Aloe vera??

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Post by RCDS66 »

Hi eremophila, mcvansoest
After having read all the posts again, I gather that Aloe eumassawana is a properly recognised Aloe specie but there is some doubt in Aloe chinensis being a properly recognised specie. Am I correct in my understanding?

And if Aloe eumassawana is a properly recognized aloe specie and we have the authentic photos of that specie as well, will it be appropriate to open a separate thread for Aloe eumassawana in the Aloaceae Gallery?
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