When it comes to Aloe vera, not all plants are the same. There are several hundred species of Aloe and many varieties within each species.
Barbadensis-miller is well established as the best Aloe species, for both topical and internal consumption. But of the hundreds of varieties of barbadensis-miller, which is the best and how can you tell the difference?
Rodney Stockton, The “Aloe Pioneer“, searched the world, testing many species and varieties of Aloes. Among the many varieties of barbadensis-miller plants, one stood out prominently for it’s “medicinal qualities”. This plant came to be called “barbadensis-miller-stockton” (barbadensis-miller species, stockton variety).
Stockton made further determinations about the factors that contribute to the medicinal properties of Aloe — including the plant maturity, climate, soil, and more — but for the sake of this article, we’ll focus on species and variety.
We often get inquiries from Aloe advocates who want to know how to identify the species and variety of a plant they are growing.
Consider this question from Lucila. She wrote:
Question: How do I know which Aloe species I am growing?
I have about 10 plants of Aloe in my back yard. I want to know if I have the correct Aloe plant, meaning the one you are selling and cultivating. My plants have white dots or spots. When I looked at your video how to slice the aloe, the plant you are using looks completely green. But when I go to the website to order, I see that the little bud you are selling looks like my plants. I am a little confused, please advise…
Answer: How to identify your Aloe plant:
The barbadensis-miller-stockton plants do have white spots when they are pups – but the spots go away as the plant matures. I have seen this role reversed in other varieties. The leaves of the barbadensis-miller-stockton plants are green, and not blue-green. Another distinguishing feature is that the flower has yellow petals, with no stripes nor dots on the petals.
Oh, that means my plants are not barbadensis-miller… They are 24 inches tall and they still have the white spots, and the flower is pink. What do you think is the name of them?
They might be barbadensis-miller… but there are several hundred varieties. They aren’t the Stockton variety, that’s what we know so far.
Even though Aloe vera has been used medicinally for thousands of years, scientists still understand little of its secrets — and pharmacologists have yet to figure out how to synthesize the plant (and patent it for the pharmaceutical companies to sell at an inflated price).
It is important to be careful with any wild plant. Some species of Aloe are toxic. Moreover, since each person can be sensitive to different things, any new food or herb should be tested cautiously for potential allergic reactions. The succulent plant website shows many pictures of Aloes. You may be able to find your variety there.