Also Known As: Aloe, Aloe vera
The genus is native to Africa, and is common in South Africa's Cape Province, the mountains of tropical Africa, and neighboring areas such as Madagascar, the Arabian peninsula, and the islands of Africa.
The APG III system (2009) places the genus in the family Xanthorrhoeaceae, subfamily Asphodeloideae. In the past it has also been assigned to families Aloaceae and Liliaceae or lily family. Members of the closely allied genera Gasteria, Haworthia and Kniphofia, which have a similar mode of growth, are also popularly known as aloes. The plant Agave americana, which is sometimes called "American aloe", belongs to Asparagaceae, a different family.
Most Aloe species have a rosette of large, thick, fleshy leaves. The leaves are often lance-shaped with a sharp apex and a spiny margin. Aloe flowers are tubular, frequently yellow, orange, pink or red, and are borne, densely clustered and pendant, at the apex of simple or branched, leafless stems.
Many species of Aloe appear to be stemless, with the rosette growing directly at ground level; other varieties may have a branched or unbranched stem from which the fleshy leaves spring. They vary in color from grey to bright-green and are sometimes striped or mottled. Some Aloes native to South Africa are arborescent.