Punxsutawney Phil and Buckeye Chuck didn’t seem to agree this year. I’m not mad at Phil, I’m sure he is a wonderful groundhog, but six more weeks of winter? Doesn’t he remember we had snow in November? The concept of the five month winter season didn’t engender warm fuzzy feelings so out of principle I went with Buckeye Chuck’s prediction that spring is just around the corner.
Filled with enthusiastic expectation I stepped into the garden center to purchase potting soil and came home with an aloe vera plant.
I’m not very fond of succulents, much like Perry the Platypus they don’t do much, but this medicinal wonder gets so much praise (some call it “the miracle plant”) that I couldn’t resist it, I wanted to learn more about it and find out if it really lives up to its hype.
The plant belongs to the aloe genus, a group of more than five hundred succulents native to North Africa known even in Antiquity for their medicinal qualities, but the variety we are familiar with can’t be found anywhere in the wild. It was cultivated for its soothing gel and is now grown in every part of the globe that enjoys tropical climate even though it prefers its original dry habitat.
Of all the health benefits it is alleged to provide, from lowering blood sugar to improving memory or fighting cancer, one has never been contested: aloe vera gel helps heal wounds. It seems there isn’t a skin affliction of any nature that this plant can’t make better from little scrapes and burns, insect bites and rashes, to frostbite, sunburn, dry skin, blisters, acne, stretch marks, athlete’s foot, if it’s on the skin aloe will probably provide relief. It packs pain management and mild antimicrobial properties in the gelatinous goo under its skin like a natural first aid kit in a pot.
I have yet to try this green fountain of health and youth, the plant didn’t have sufficient time to acclimate to its new home on the window sill and I don’t want to stress it out. Isn’t it pretty though?