The genus Aloe consists of approximately 450 species that occur in Africa, Madagascar, and the Arabian Peninsula. Aloes range in size from diminutive pot plants to large trees and massive clumps. The plants are characterized by rosettes of fleshy succulent leaves, which can grow close to the ground, or on branched and un-branched stems. There are variations: A. plicatilis, is distichous, while the unusual A. polyphylla from Lesotho grows in spirals. Some species, such as A. vera, have medicinal value and substantial cash value as crops. Aloes are also valued horticultural subjects, making stunning additions to gardens in drier climes. The tubular flowers tend to be orange, red, or yellow and appear on naked stalks from the center of the leaf rosettes. There is an ongoing debate as to whether aloes and their close relatives should be placed in the family Asphodelaceae, Liliaceae, or Aloaceae.
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