[Sca-cooks] Using aloe in food

ranvaig at columbus.rr.com ranvaig at columbus.rr.com
Sun Jul 15 23:40:33 PDT 2007

>My first thought as aloe vera, which is used in food items, but I 
>think that aloe vera is a New World plant. Wikipedia mentions its use 
>in Pakistan and India "for centuries", but that doesn't necessarily 
>mean it is period.

When people talk about Aloe, they usually mean Aloe Vera.  And it is definitely Old World.


Aloe vera (syn. A. barbadensis Mill., A. vulgaris Lam.) is a species of Aloe, native to northern Africa.

Most botanists agree, and historical evidence suggests, that the Aloe Vera plant originated in the warm, dry climates of Africa. However, because the plant is readily adaptable, and because man has been so eager to carry it with him from place to place, it now can be found in many warm lands.
... The first detailed discussion of Aloe's medicinal value is probably that which is found in the Papyrus ebers, an Egyptian document written around B.C.E. 1550. This document gives twelve formulas for mixing Aloe with other agents to treat both internal and external human disorders.

Aloe vera is one of about 250 species of Aloes.  The Aloes are members of the Lily family (Liliaceae) and, therefore, are relatives of such common plants as tulips, Easter lilies, and asparagus.  Aloe vera is believed to be native to the Mediterranean, but its exact native habitat is unknown.  In the Old World the aloes have had a long history of economic use, and this species in particular has been carried around by people for so long that its original habitat has been lost in history.  In fact, some taxonomists believe that Aloe vera is not even a naturally developed species, but instead some ancient hybrid.  This may, in part, account for the use of two scientific names for the species.

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