Aloe Simii: Saving our endangered plant

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Aloe Vera produces two substances used for medicine: The gel is obtained from the cells in the centre of the leaf, and the latex is obtained from the cells just beneath the leaf skin.

The aloe simii species of plants is listed as critically endangered and the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) is making sure to preserve it during road construction.

South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP), or Vision 2030, guides SANRAL towards the protection and enhancement of our environmental assets and natural resources.

The aloe simii which grows only in a very small natural geographic range thrives in Mpumalanga, from Sabie southwards to White River and around Nelspruit.

Populations are also declining due to the drying out of the aloe’s wetland habitat. This is caused by adjacent plantations and water extraction, alien plant invasion, urban expansion and rural development.

Conservation measures

SANRAL has proposed measures that include seed harvesting and propagation as conservation tactics while it constructs the Mbombela P166 link road to the R40 south, between White River and Mbombela.

The harvesting and propagation has been undertaken successfully in the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) Lowveld Botanical Garden with germination rates in excess of 90%.

Another option is SANRAL partnering with a tertiary institution to enhance scientific information and research on aloe simii, which will contribute to efforts to save the species from extinction in the wild.

Benefits of Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera produces two substances used for medicine: The gel is obtained from the cells in the centre of the leaf, and the latex is obtained from the cells just beneath the leaf skin.

Most people use aloe gel as a remedy for skin conditions, including burns, sunburn, frostbite, psoriasis and cold sores.

It’s also used as a natural remedy for asthma, stomach ulcers, diabetes and for soothing side effects of radiation treatment.

Aloe vera contains many vitamins and minerals vital for proper growth and function of all the body’s systems. Here’s an easy explanation of Aloe Vera’s active components:

  • aloe vera contains antioxidant vitamins A, C and E — plus vitamin B12, folic acid and choline.
  • aloe vera provides sugars, such as monosaccharide’s (glucose and fructose) and polysaccharides.
  • The hormones called auxins and gibberellins are present; they help with healing wounds and have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Minerals such as calcium, copper, selenium, chromium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, sodium and zinc are also present in aloe vera.

Author

SANRAL