We grow 2 types of medicinal Aloe, (both of which are called Aloe vera) Aloe perryi & Aloe barbadensis. A. perryi is the smaller of the two, & is most commonly found for sale in markets & garden centres. It has soft, spotted leaves which grow in a fan shape (below left). A. barbadensis (below, centre & right) is harder to get established here in Hawkes Bay, it is grown commercially under plastic or shade cloth. It grows up to about 70cm, the leaves form a whorl rather than a fan, & it has sharp points at regular intervals on each side of the leaf.

We over winter both types in the greenhouse, & have some trial plants out under the natives. It’s noticeable that both plants prefer a little shade, the leaves have a pink tinge in too much light.(the central photo illustrates this) They both grow happily in pots, in fact A. perryi prefers to be squashed up, so much so that it can easily get top heavy.

Today we have been processing one plant of A. barbadensis for oil, this includes washing the leaves, (preferably avoiding injury from the sharp points)  cutting off the base of each leaf, & then filleting the gel out. It’s a very satisfying process, esp if you are not squeamish about getting covered to the elbow in slime!

As I’m sure everyone knows, Aloe vera is renowned for it’s soothing properties on burns, apply the gel from a fresh, cut leaf, directly to minor domestic burns & sunburn, as often as necessary. It’s surprising how often burns that you would swear would blister, have virtually disappeared the next day. It’s healing properties extend to wounds, ulcers & varicose veins. We use it, macerated in Olive Oil in a number of our ointments, we make a simple Aloe vera ointment, the oil is also used in our Eczema Cream & Lip Balm.