Saturday, 14 January 2017

Aloe ferox sketch

The original is watercolour in my Moleskine Nature Journal – 8″ × 8″

Here in South Africa, the Aloes start flowering in June/July, our coldest winter months, and for me the amazing thing is that, in the Northern Hemisphere, like France, they also flower in July, but during their summer. Some internal clock dictating the flowering time?

I did this sketch of this Aloe ferox (Bitter aloe) in my garden in August 2009, after I had noticed that the Blackbirds were all visiting this one, and the reason was soon apparent – it was fairly dripping with nectar! The flowers always seem to produce the most nectar just as they’re getting to the end of their life-span, which is early Spring. It’s their special gift to nature.

This hardy plant with its succulent leaves can survive the harshest conditions. When damaged by man or animal, the plant seals off any wound with a sticky, dark liquid that prevents infestation by virus, fungus or insect. This dark liquid has been successfully used by ancient inhabitants as a traditional remedy for many ailments.

The white inner gel of the leaf has the ability to hold and store moisture through hot, dry conditions and months of drought. Traditionally, the local inhabitants use it to soothe burn wounds, cuts and abrasions. Today those same qualities are still the being used in a wide range of moisturizers and rejuvenating creams and gels.

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