(Aloe vera) Originating probably in the Middle East, this grows about a metre tall, and has yellow or reddish flowers, unlucky to look at, according to French herbalists (Boland. 1977). Dreaming of them, though, not in flower, betokens a long life; in flower, a legacy (Mackay). How often do they bloom? The whole leaf steeped in water had been used to make a soothing drink in tropical countries (G B Foster), but the main use of the plant is medicinal. The drug alone, better known as bitter aloes, is extracted from plants introduced into the West Indies, and the jellylike juice from the leaves is used to treat cuts and burns, like its New World relative, Aloe chinensis (see BURN PLANT). When rubbed on the skin, it protects one from insect bites, and the juice relieves sunburn, too, although the plant itself does not flourish in direct sunlight (G B Foster).
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