Aloe ferox can be found growing wild, in vast areas of South Africa. Unlike cultivated plants, which may require treatment with pesticides and fertilizers, those growing wild, in their natural habitat, have adapted to local climatic conditions and are healthy, robust plants, which maintain their genetic biodiversity and are able to continuously draw from the abundance of nutrients in the soil.
The leaves are harvested by farm workers and their families by hand. Only the lower leaves of a mature aloe plant are cut, once a year, thus enabling the plant to continue to grow. Each year when the plants flower in the winter months, they produce seeds which drop near the “mother plant” and within a few months the new, baby plants are clearly visible next to the adult. After four years, these new plants are also ready to be tapped.
Aloe ferox is higher and more robust plant than the Aloe vera. The Aloe ferox usually grows 2m high, but up to 5m tall in older specimens. Aloe vera leaves are very soft, and damage easily, but Aloe ferox leaves are extremely tough, with lots of thorns, do not bruise/damage easily, and therefore the inner flesh is very well protected from weather conditions, animals, insects.
A comparison of the chemical composition of Aloe ferox and Aloe vera was performed based on values available in the literature (Femenia 1999, Mabusela 1990).
Similarly, scientific tests comparing the differences between Aloe ferox and Aloe vera plants (whole leafs), growing side by side, were performed at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town, South Africa. (Jan. ’87)