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Plant of the Month: Aloes - A Cautionary Tale

By Mary Townsley

Aloe vera (Barbados aloe) is one of the few species of aloe with purported medicinal properties. However, some aloes are topical irritants and even Aloe vera can be toxic for children and pets if ingested. Sad to say, identification can be problematic with unlabeled aloes, as there are more than 400 species and hybrids and many look similar.

This cute aloe, a hybrid of unknown lineage, is in my garden because it's interesting - not for any medicinal use. It has lovely leaf patterning and the little aloe "bulbils" on its flower stems. Aloes' colorful tubular flowers are hummingbird magnets and the plants generally require little care.

Enjoy your aloes, but to be safe keep them away from children and pets who like to sample and chew in the garden!

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