Aloe Vera: Cultivation Practices, Medicinal Values and Other Uses

Aloe Vera cultivation
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                  Aloe Vera

Introduction:

Aloe Vera is the oldest medicinal plant ever known and the most applied medicinal plant worldwide. Extracts of Aloe vera is a proven skin healer. Aloe vera help to soothe skin injuries affected by burning, skin irritations, cuts and insect bites, and its bactericidal properties relieve itching and skin swellings. Aloe vera Gel contains a large range of vitamins – even vitamin B12, Vitamin A, contains B-Group vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and folic acid. Aloe vera Gel contains important ingredients including 19 of the 20 amino acids needed by the human body and seven of the eight essential ones that just cannot be made.

Classification:

Binomial Name: Aloe Vera (Aloe = a shining bitter substance; Vera = true.)

Nepali name: Ghiukumari

English name: Burn plant

Kingdom: Plantae

Family: Xanthorrhoeace

Genus: Aloe

Species: vera

Classification: Monocotyledons

Origin and Distribution:

Native to East and South Africa, The Canary Island and Spain. South East Asia, India, China, Nepal, Africa, Europe, Australia, West Indies.

Plant Description:

Aloe Vera is a stem less or very short-stemmed succulent (juicy) plant growing to 60–100 cm tall.

  • Leaves: Thick and fleshy, green to grey-green

Leaves consist of four layers:

  • Rind: The outer part of protective covering
  • Sap: A layer of bitter fluid, which helps to protect the plant from animals
  • Mucilage gel: The inner part of the leaf that is filleted out to make Aloe gel.
  • Inner gel: It contains about eight amino acid.
  • Inflorescence: Racemose
  • Flowers: Pedicellate, bisexual
  • Flowering period: July to September
  • Habitat: Succulent
  1. Cultivation:
  2. Climate and Soil:
  3. Tropical and sub-tropical, grown in warm, humid climate, sub temperate also.
  4. Good sunshine, 150 -200 cm rainfall/year.
  • Frost and hailstorms may cause damage the plant.
  1. Dry climate in preferred.
  2. Sandy loamy soil is the best suited for it.

Also thrives in slightly acidic soil.

  1. pH up to 8.5.
  2. Propagation:  It can be propagated root suckers, rhizome cuttings.
  3. Preparation of land:
  • 1-2 cross ploughing; 1 harrowing and leveling.
  • The soil is thoroughly free from the weeds.
  1. Sowing Season:
  • March – April, May-June – July, August -October.
  • It can be planted throughout the year.
  • Planting:
  • Medium sized root suckers are chosen and carefully dug out without damaging the parent plant at the base and can be directly planted in the prepared field.
  • About 15 -18 cm long root suckers or rhizome cuttings are planted in such a way that two-third portion of the root suckers or rhizome cuttings should be under the ground.
  • After harvest the rhizome can be dug out and made in to 5-6cm length cuttings with minimum of 2-3 nodes from matured stem.
  • These rhizome cuttings need to be planted is the Nursery beds or containers initially and soon after sprouting, they can be transplanted.
  • Moistened soil at planting time.
  • The seedlings should be protected from stray molds, harmful insects and certain fungi..
  1. Set rate or root sucker rate:
  • 12000 to 17000 sets/ha or about 20,000 – 25,000 of seedlings / ha
  1. Spacing:
  • Rows x Set – 50x25cm or 1m x 45cm apart or 60 x 30cm or 60 x 45cm.
  1. Manures and fertilizers:
  • 8-10q of FYM / Compost /ha.
  • 60:40:40kg of NPK / ha.
  • Supplement NPK should be applied near the root system.
  • Ammonium nitrate usually beneficial to Aloes.
  • 150 kg of NPK/ ha is also recommended
  • Irrigation: 4-5 irrigations. In dry season 8 -10 irrigations. Soon after planting the field should be irrigated. Water should not be allowed to stagnate near the plant.
  • Intercultural operations:
  • 3-4 weeding and hoeing.
  • Earthling up is needed because the aloes possess shallow root.
  • Weed should be plucked or cut and spread them as mulch between the lines of aloe.
  1. Diseases: Leaf spot, Alternaria alternate, Fusarium solani.
  2. Insect’s pests: Cut worms; Beetles.
  3. Harvesting and Yield:
  • Aloe pop take 18-24 months to fully mature.
  • Harvested 4 times a year.
  • At the rate of 3 leaves cut from each plant about 12 – 14 leaves are the harvest / plant / year.
  • The leaves are cut without causing damage to the plant.
  • Aloe plant can be removed manually or with the help of disc harrow or cultivator.
  • Average yield 120000-180000 kg/ha annually.
  • In good condition it gives 20 tons/ha.
  • The leaves cut off close to the plant are placed immediately, with the cut end downwards in a v-shaped wooden trough.
  • The trough is set on a sharp incline so that the juice, which trickles from the leaves very rapidly flows down its sides; and finally escapes by a hole at its lower end into a vessel placed beneath.
  • It takes about a quarter of an hour to cut leaves enough to fill a trough.
  • It gives a commercial yield from the second year up to the age of five years, after which it needs replanting.
  1. Chemical Evaluation:
  • The principal constituent is Aloin‘.
  • Aloe contains cathartic anthrax – glycosides and its active principal ranging from 4.5 to 25% of Aloin.
  • Other chemical constituents are; Aloesin, Aloesone, Barbaloin, Aloeemodin, Aloetic acid, Homonataloin, Choline, Chrysamminjo acid, Galacturonic acid, mucopolysaccharides, free anthraquinones and resins.
  • Vitamins namely A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E are available in Aloe vera.
  1. Key Action: detoxifier, antiseptic and tonic for the nervous system
  2. Medicinal Uses:
  • Aloe Vera is good for irritated or inflamed skin.
  • Aloe Vera helps in speeding up the process of healing of burns and other wounds.
  • Aloe Vera is good for hydrating, rejuvenating and toning for the skin.
  • Aloe Vera is used on facial tissues where it is promoted as a moisturizer and anti-irritant to reduce chafing of the nose.
  • Cosmetic companies commonly add sap or other derivatives from Aloe Vera to products such as makeup, tissues, moisturizers, soaps, sunscreens, incense, shaving cream, or shampoos.
  • Parts of plants are chewed to purify the blood. But they should not be brought into contact with teeth for long time, else, the enamel of teeth erodes causing sensitivity.
  • The flesh is boiled with black coffee and nine very strong cups drunk to induce abortion.
  • The juice of the leaves mixed with a little opium and applied to the forehead relieves headache.
  • Aloe Vera gel has antifungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects and helps to heal minor wounds.
  • Liver disorders – Aloe juice with turmeric powder should be taken twice a day.
  • Difficult urination – Continuous diluted aloe juice should be taken time to time to alleviate this condition.
  • In wounds – Boil aloe leaves and take the fleshy part of the leaves over wounds.
  • As a cosmetic – Aloe is one of the best-known moisturizers and used in creams and shampoos.
  • Jaundice – A few drops of aloe juice is installed in the nostrils to control jaundice.
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