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Although its leaves are very popular all over the world for their numerous properties, the same is not true of the aloe vera flower. It is the great unknown of the plant. For this reason, in this article we want to shed some light on it and put it in its rightful place.
Description and general characteristics of the aloe vera flower
Its flower is not always easy to see in domestic cultivation because flowering is difficult in these conditions. Some of its characteristics are:
It has an elongated cylindrical shape, similar to a bell.
It is usually yellow or orange in colour, although the shade varies slightly between different species and varieties.
It is not a large flower compared to the plant itself. It is generally two to three centimetres long, but can be larger in some varieties.
It grows in clusters at the top of long, slender stems rising from the centre of the plant. These clusters may contain several flowers and resemble a flower stalk.
It is not a constant bloomer and can be rare if grown at home. They usually appear in spring or summer, but the plant can go several years without flowering.
For it to produce seeds, cross-pollination by insects is required, and they are attracted by the nectar of its flowers.
Types of flowering aloe vera
There are many species and varieties of aloe vera, and some produce flowers. We talk about some types of flowering aloe vera.
It is also known as octopus plant or candelabra aloe. This species is shrubbier compared to the more popular Aloe barbadensis miller. It produces red or orange tubular flowers in dense clusters at the top of branched stems. It is more prone to flowering than the common aloe vera.
It originates from South Africa and produces red or orange flowers in tall, spiny clusters. The leaves of this species are more pointed and toothed than those of the common aloe vera.
This species is known as coral aloe because of the colour of its flowers, which varies from coral to orange. The flowers grow in clusters and the plant has fleshy, bluish-green leaves.
Edible aloe vera flower
The edible aloe vera flower is a valuable source of bioactives with health benefits. Various studies have found amino acids, sugars, trigonelline, fatty acids, total phenolics, carotenoids, vitamin C, etc. The amount of each compound depends on the degree of maturity of the plant. All of them can be used in cosmetics, food and pharmaceuticals.
The aloe vera flower is edible and can be eaten in various ways. When raw, it leaves a bitter taste that not everyone likes. However, it loses this bitterness when heated.
Aloe vera flower tea
Its flavour is highly appreciated. It is very mild and sweet, and it is common to add cinnamon, lemon or ginger, among other spices or medicinal herbs. Among its properties, it strengthens the immune and digestive systems. Therefore, it soothes the symptoms of certain intestinal disorders and is ideal to drink in winter when we have a flu or a cold.
For consumption as a tea, it is best to dry the flowers in the sun and then crush them. They are then placed in boiling water for a few minutes after being removed from the heat to infuse.
Aloe vera flower honey
Given its sweetness, it is easy to use it to make honey. To do this, it is best to use a tall glass jar with a lid. In this way, we can layer sugar and flowers alternately in thin layers until the jar is full. We start and end with sugar. Close the jar and put it in a dark, dry place at room temperature for three days. When the flowers have dissolved in the sugar, we filter it through a sieve. Put the syrup in a jar with a lid and store it in the refrigerator. It retains its full properties for a month.
It can be used to sweeten desserts, juices or infusions. Outside of the kitchen, it is also a potent hair cream and ideal for defining curls by using it as a hair mask.
It is very versatile and provides a unique flavour to salads, desserts, yoghurts, scrambled eggs, etc. It should be remembered that, if the flowers are eaten raw, it is advisable to eat them in small quantities so that the result is not excessively bitter.
What is aloe vera flower used for?
In 2019, a team of researchers from the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança in Portugal found that there were hardly any scientific studies on the properties and benefits of the aloe vera flower. Despite numerous studies on the chemical and biological properties of the plant, the flower was hardly known. For this reason, they focused on the content of phenolic compounds and its bioactive properties.
The first thing they discovered was that it did not contain aloin, which has important properties but also side effects. On the other hand, 93.4 % of the extract was composed of various flavonoids. These have some interesting properties. We highlight the following:
Antioxidant: They inhibit the catalysis of free radicals and reduce them. They are therefore very valuable in slowing down the ageing signs.
They act on the vascular system, protecting the walls of arteries, veins and capillaries by decreasing their permeability. They also inhibit enzyme systems related to vascular function.
Other functions: they are diuretics, gastric anti-ulcer, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory. They are also very useful against capillary fragility, with some retinal diseases, metrorrhagia and in proctology.
The conclusions of this Portuguese study highlight the purpose of the aloe vera flower:
The flower protected sheep erythrocytes from free radicals and discolouration of beta-carotene.
It inhibited the growth and killed a broad spectrum of multi-resistant bacteria and fungi.
It reduced the activity of the enzyme tyrosinase.
In short, the aloe vera flower is very interesting from a pharmacological and cosmetic point of view. It is edible and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Try it!