Economic Botany

, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 167–178 | Cite as

Documented Utility and Biocultural Value of Aloe L. (Asphodelaceae): A Review

  • Olwen M. GraceEmail author
  • Monique S. J. Simmonds
  • Gideon F. Smith
  • Abraham E. van Wyk


Documented Utility and Biocultural Value of Aloe L. (Asphodelaceae): A Review. The genus Aloe L. (Asphodelaceae) comprises 548 accepted species, of which at least one-third are documented as having some utilitarian value. The group is of conservation concern due to habitat loss and being extensively collected from the wild for horticulture and natural products. Cultural value is increasingly important in the effective conservation of biodiversity. The present study evaluated the biocultural value of the known uses of Aloe, excluding the domesticated and commercially cultivated A. vera. Over 1,400 use records representing 173 species were collated from the literature and through personal observation; this paper presents a synopsis of uses in each of 11 use categories. Medicinal uses of Aloe were described by 74% of the use records, followed by social and environmental uses (both 5%). Species yielding natural products, notably A. ferox and A. perryi, were most frequently cited in the literature. Consensus ratios indicate that the most valued uses of Aloe are in medicine and pest control against arthropods and other invertebrates.

Key Words

Aloe Asphodelaceae biocultural value conservation Ethnobotany medicine Uses 



We are grateful to colleagues in the Library, Art and Archives section and Jodrell Laboratory at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, for their help acquiring references for this study.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olwen M. Grace
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Monique S. J. Simmonds
    • 1
  • Gideon F. Smith
    • 2
    • 3
  • Abraham E. van Wyk
    • 2
  1. 1.Royal Botanic Gardens, KewSurreyUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Department of Plant ScienceUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  3. 3.South African National Biodiversity InstitutePretoriaSouth Africa

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