There are over 350 varieties of Aloe, all plants that belong to the large family of Aloaceae. The two most widely used and most widespread varieties are Aloe Arborescens and Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis miller).
What is the difference between these two plants? And why does Father Romano Zago recommend using the Arborescens variety instead of the Aloe Vera?
Let’s find out together.
Difference at a glance
Even if they belong to the same family, Aloe Vera and Aloe Arborescens can be easily distinguished at a glance.
It is in fact two botanical species with a completely different trunk structure, leaves and flowers.
1 – The trunk
Aloe Vera grows and develops in the shape of a bush, without having a central trunk, with leaves whose base starts directly from the ground and a maximum height that generally does not exceed one meter in height even in larger plants.
On the contrary, Aloe Arborescens has a central woody trunk and various branches that develop in a chaotic way. In tropical climates Aloe Arborescens (which takes its proper name from the tree-shaped structure) can reach over 4 meters in height.
2 – The leavesAloe Vera has light green leaves, a color that can turn yellow over time due to sun exposure. Aloe Vera leaves are very large and rich in gel, so much that in adult plants a single leaf can weigh up to 2 kg, with a length ranging from 60 to 90 cm.
Aloe Arborescens leaves are narrow and filiform, dark green, contain less gel and are much shorter (between 30 and 70 cm). A single Aloe Arborescens miller leaf can weigh up to 150-250 g. A common feature is that in both varieties the margins of the leaf present spikes.
3 – The flower
The two plants can be distinguished also for the timing of the blooming and the color of the flowers.
Aloe Vera starts blooming with the arrival of spring, in the first days of March, forming an inflorescence formed by numerous yellow flowers.
The Aloe Arborescens instead blooms in December. The structure of the flower is very similar to that of Aloe Vera, but the color can vary from orange to bright red.
Adaptability to cold climates
Thanks to the greater thickness of the external cuticle and the typical filiform form of the leaves, Aloe Arborescens is different from Aloe Vera for its greater resistance to cold climates. However, even if more resistant, also the Arborescens variety does not withstand temperatures below 0 °.
Which one is better, Aloe Arborescens or Aloe Vera?
We are most interested in understanding the difference between Aloe Arborescens and Aloe Vera from a purely qualitative point of view.
In fact, a person with little experience in this field could assume that Aloe Vera, being the most widely used in cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, is also the best variety.
As a matter of fact, it is exactly the opposite.
Indeed, Aloe Arborescens features a concentration of active ingredients three times higher than that of Aloe Vera and so also a higher therapeutic activity. This is the main reason why Father Romano Zago recommends the use of the Arborescens variety.
In addition to a higher content of amino acids, Aloe Arborescens has a much higher concentration of anthraquinone elements, responsible not only for the laxative and purifying effect of the juice, but also for the antiviral, antimicrobial and antitumor properties.
Why does the pharmaceutical industry use Aloe Vera?
We know that in Aloe Arborescens leaves the quantity of gel is significantly lower than in Aloe Vera.
This disadvantageous situation for purely commercial purposes (lower product yield/cost) has so far maintained Aloe Arborescens at a very reduced use, although its phytotherapeutic properties are significantly higher than those of Aloe Vera.
In fact, the low yield per leaf and the hand work needed to extract the juice has driven up the price of the Aloe Arborescens juice, a price that becomes almost not affordable for most people (50-60 € per half liter of juice).
Luckily, nowadays there are small-scale Italian farms that produce and sell fresh Aloe Arborescens juice directly to the final customer. Thanks to the short supply chain, today prices have halved and many people who cannot prepare their juice at home, can have easy access to the purchase of these products, which are also freshly made to order.
An example of short supply chain is the Erbe di Mauro farm, a company based in Fermo (central Italy) that grows Aloe Arborescens plants and freshly produces Father Zago juice to order.
You can order it directly from the website: www.erbedimauro.it
Aloe Arborescens juice
Father Romano Zago’s Recipe
Ingredients: Aloe Arborescens, honey and distillate
Price: 34,00 €