Friday, 11 May 2012

Aloe vera

I was having a conversation with some friends the other day, when I mentioned Aloe vera flowers; they gave me this baffled look: apparently, they had never seen those before. I guess I take it for granted, as we have had flowering Aloe vera in our balcony for several years now. The one that is currently in bloom has actually not one, but two flower stalks:

I'm not sure how common this is. Back in Paraguaná, where I used to live, this plant was all over the place, and now that I think about it, I don't recall seeing a lot of flowers. Maybe it's the age of the plant; this one is 3rd or 4th generation from the one we originally had and had to give away on account it didn't fit on the balcony anymore. This one is a bit smaller, but still impressive: roughly 110 cm in diameter, and the flower stalk is about 115 cm long!

Anyway. Went to the balcony to get a few more pictures for the post. The flowers are actually quite nice:

And then I noticed the floor was all sticky; further examination revealed there was syrup-like stuff all over the leaves - nectar leaking from the flowers:

So, of course, I had to try it. Extremely sweet stuff! Google did not reveal any information on whether this is actually used for sweetening food or something (probably not practical), but I did learn that hummingbirds dig it. Since I am most certainly not one, I have no idea what effect it could have on me. I know that ingesting some parts of the leaf is not recommended, so maybe this could be my last post :P 

I should have learned my lesson a few years ago when I spotted a new plant growing in one of our pots, saw some black fruits, and decided to try one. It was Solanum nigrum, also known as Hierba Mora or the more descriptive Tomatillo del Diablo: definitely poisonous, as I learned from Google AFTER having tried one. Nothing happened, of course, but I was quite worried for a few minutes.

At least this time I Googled first. But seriously, it is sweet and it comes from a plant. That should mean it's safe, shouldn't it? Supposedly all the other stuff that one is not supposed to try smells bad, is bitter or something. I think. Oh well.

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