The aloe tree otherwise known as aloe barberae originates from Africa and Mediterranean and few are gotten from American part. This tree grows slowly to maturity stage. The tree has a heavy grey truck that grows to a height of thirty feet and beyond in a more warm places. The aloe that is used for domestic beautification and as houseplant grows to be short forming rosettes. A young aloe tree plants grows as succulent leave stem to a height of ten feet. After that, they start branching at the tip where more other leaves sprout curving forming a crown that is round in shape. The aloe plants grow as shrubs and as trees. They produce flowers from the long spires which is the heart of the rosettes making them very important used for decoration purpose (Reynolds, Telly pg 66)
The aloe Vera has proved itself very useful in the human body as they are used as medicine. They are used in both internal and external parts as they have medicinal value. They produce gel that can be converted to a smooth cream used to heal the skin burn for example the sunburn. They are also useful in manufacture of soap that has special use.
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According to Reynolds pg 54, the plant propagates in different ways. They can reproduce by the means of sexual and asexual method. This makes this plant more reliable to be grown, as one does not wait until its maturity stage to get the seeds for propagation. This makes its life cycle shorter inn creasing the advantages of the farmers who rely on this plant.
Propagation by seed
The aloe plant has slender flowers that are tubular. These flowers grow in masses along the thin spires on the plant. They raise to the top the plant thus exposing itself for cross-pollination. Most of the aloe flowers have sterile self-pollination. The plant orientates itself in manner that also discourages self-pollination. This is by production of the pollen grain before the egg-bearing stigma is activated. This enables the plant to discourage self-fertilization.
According to Sampson & Wills pg 32, the pollination of the aloe plant is by cross-pollination where an agent is required. This can be done by bees, insect or the birds. The bees and the insects use their long proboscises and their hairy legs to carry the pollen grain to other plants unknowingly in search of the nectar. Generally, birds are the main pollinator of the aloe especially the sunbird. These birds are characterized by long beak. They also belong to the family of birds that take nectar. Therefore, in the process of drinking nectar they carry with them the pollen grain transferring them to other plant otherwise causing pollination. The seed are then fertilized as they grow to maturity stage. They are then distributed to other places by water runoff, weather or by animals.
The plants are also well known for producing offsets. These pups are very important during the propagation. They develop as buds on the line of the roots and can sprout as nodes along the stem. These buds become generic crone of the parental plant after growing to maturity. The bud produces its rooting system and with time, they become an independent plant (Pamplona-Roger, George pg 54).
Aloes are very good in regenerative process. This make them very use in the propagation as their leaves, stems and the rosettes can be broken down and planted to form a new plant. Many people who embark in aloe farming uses this method, as it is very convenient and makes reproduction fast and reliable. The cutting is done in leaves, stem or the rosettes and grounded in a wet soil where the rooting system develops.
Growing of aloes and their habitat
The growing of aloe especially the herbaceous les robust one has shown that they require shade and irrigation in the midday heat especially in the hotter places. This is to ensure that they produce the diversified seasonal garden color as they flower. With this, the aloes poses to be very useful by designers, developers, landscapers and gardeners due to their environmental sustainability and their performance that is reliable (Sampson & Wills pg 66). This is because they make them put color back to the garden as they produce magnificent flowering after irrigation. The plant can also be bred to ensure they adapt better to certain climate condition.
Landscaping with aloe
The aloes have been very useful I the landscaping process by forming land scape style. They have been in use traditionally and in modern setting especially in places like Austria and in Africa. They are grown as feature plants, ground cover and shrubs. They are extremely hard and have low maintenance as they can still do better with minimal irrigation. Aloe -aloe cultivar which is a bred of two aloe plant has shown a lot of tolerance in a wide range of climate. They thrive even in hot and dry climate flowering normally. The aloe especially for landscaping should be well chosen as some exhibit weather tolerance than others. A variety such as the Pink and Topaz requires more protection and should be grown in wet soil. They are also suit to be grown with other plants.
The aloe an also be grown along the walls. This is because they are shallow rooted thus they cannot break concrete. This makes them to be very important in landscaping as they create an extra dimension where most of other plants cannot be planted. The shallow roots also help them to grow well in the cans as they are retained there without breaking them (Schmelzer & Gurib-Fakim pg 78)
According to Swenson pg 134, the aloe plant has been bred predominantly with different species increasing their flowering qualities. By this breeding process, the aloe plants have turned to be very prolific, long lasting and start flowering in their early age. Aloe plant that has been bred has ability of producing flowers for more than ten months in a year. Their flower colors are also changed and they are made to have a wide range. Examples of colors that are predominant are white. This is gotten from fairly pink and tusker plant. The next color is yellow that is produced by Southern Cross. Pink color is also another dominant color that is produced by Aries. There are also bi-colored flowers that are produced by such plants as Capricorn. The flowering of the plant differs from each other and thus they have to be intercropped to produce a good color contrast in the garden. They can also be varied in their planting season to ensure that they produce flowers all the year. Aloes flowers have very scent that makes the place more pleasant and attracting the insect and birds for pollination. Their presence also increases the authenticity of the garden. The flowers help to note if the plant has been affected by disease, illness or if the flower is starving due to lack of water(Pamplona-Roger, George pg 84)..
Roots and anchorage
Generally, the aloes have shallow root network that grows few centimeters in the soil. This is a benefit as they can thrive in relatively low rainfall and low amount of irrigation. There rooting system make it is possible for aloe to be planted to structure such as wall. This is because there no risk of breaking it as they have soft roots and rarely increase much in their girth as they grow. This is the reason that makes them appropriate to grow them in a container as green roofs.
Rainfall and irrigation
The aloe plants are drought resistant plant. They can do well in the dry land and arid and semi arid zone. They also can do well in places where there are ample of rain especially in wet and hot region like in the western part of Africa. However, for the plants that originates in a place where there a lot of rain becomes a little bit vulnerable in hotter region. Thus in every weather region, it is very important to chose the appropriate plant for each climatic condition especially for the aloe farmers. The aloe should be irrigated during the dry season especially if they have just been planted. This goes on until the root is produced and they are well established. After that, they are able to flourish for along time without water. They are capable of resisting drought as they have succulent stems and some has spiny leaves. Therefore, when the rain comes they take enough water that helps them to thrive long period without water until possibly the next rainy season (Baldwin, Debra pg 97).
The aloes do very well in high temperatures but metabolic rate decreases as the colder weather approaches. This retards their growth and grows a little slower. They also tolerate adverse weather condition like frost especially if they are growing on the right position where they can be shielded against them. When exposed in such condition their leaves and tip fall off until the season ends. When the summer comes and rain fall, they sprout and the leaves come back replacing the withered ones.
For best flowering, the aloes need sunlight especially the maturing ones. The young plant that was kept in the shade should slowly be introduced to the sunshine until they fully acclimatize with the condition. The plant can get sunburn but they recover very first after sometime. This may be caused by hot temperatures, changes in the light intensity and the change in the watering process.
This plant can tolerate soil with poor water retention and soil with water log problem like clay. However, the plant does well in a well-drained soil. This soil ensures that the water get to the root in the required amount and do not drain off the required nutrients. For the farmers who requires to plant aloe in clay soil shou'ld apply sand soil first to enhance water peroration. Manure is also very important in the growth of aloe Vera. Incase of application of fertilizer for the aloes grower, the level of nitrogen in organic fertilizer should not be high.
The aloe plants are relatively susceptible towards the pest but they can act as the place where the pest hide especially if they are so much crowded in the garden. When they gather around them in large number, there might be minor attack on them.
Uses of aloe Vera
The aloe Vera has numerous uses. The plant can be used as landscape decoration as flowerbed as well as medicine. The yellow liquid can be used as purgative. It can also be processed to make Aloin that is used as laxative. It can also be used as alternative medicine and first aid at home especially for wound treatment internally and externally. The plant can also be used incase of stomach discomfort caused by indigestion. The gel produced by the aloe is used for soothing burns, applied on places affected by eczema and ringworm. In addition, the aloe gel can be used to prevent tumor growth. Its extracts have anti-hyperglycemic effects that very useful in treating Type II Diabetes in animals (Reynolds, Telly pg 36).