Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Aloe Vera

Do you have an aloe vera?

This plant, with its fleshy, slightly spiny arms is an easy houseplant. It can go outside in the summers if you live in a wintry climate.

At our previous house, the tenants before us left an old, scraggly looking plant. I stuck the pot in a corner, but watered it once in awhile, because - hey - it's a plant and I love plants.

Ignored, it did its thing, tucked away, out of sight. Until one day. Our then eleven year old son decided to test the stove top, one of the flat, smooth, electric types. Did the "still warm" red light really mean that it was still hot? I had just turned off the burner. His hand sizzled. The palm was bright red, with a half-dollar sized blister on the edge. I ran out to the ugly aloe, snapped off one of its fat leaves and broke it open. I spread the sticky goo thickly all over his palm. The pain relief was immediate. I wrapped it loosely the first day to keep a thick layer covering his palm. He is right handed, he burned his left hand. Didn't even miss any school work because of a bad hand. Too bad.

I tried not to ask him, "What were you thinking?" But it came out.
"I wanted to see if it was actually hot."
"That's why they put that little red warning light on there until it cools off. So you won't touch it."
"Well, now I know that."

In two days, his hand was no longer pink, and the blister had reabsorbed into the skin without popping and leaving a raw mess. Amazing. I resolved at that time to always have an aloe vera plant.

Then we moved, and the big scraggly aloe stayed behind. It would freeze here.

This weekend, at our daughter's house to celebrate her three year old's birthday, I noticed she had several aloe plants on her front porch. Note to self - buy an aloe.

At Home Depot I bought a small one, with a small pot. It will sit on the stair rail wall, a low maintenance plant to provide a spot of green. Hopefully we won't need it. But if we do, it will be there.

The Sunset Western Garden Book says they are also "good for sunburn, insect bites, inflammation, and a host of other ills." This is not endorsed by the FDA, or whatever it is I am supposed to say at this point. I know from personal experience, though, for burns, aloe vera really does work.

Do you have an aloe vera? You should.

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