Aloe Ferox In South Africa
the aloe ferox
Aloe ferox plants grow wild right throughout the Western, Southern and Eastern Cape regions of South Africa. The aloe plants are not cultivated and occur naturally on private farmland as well as open, uninhabited government-owned land.
the aloe plant tapping process
The leaves are harvested by farm workers and their families, and the “tapping” process as it is known, whereby the bitter sap is removed, has been passed down from generation to generation. Only the lower leaves of a mature aloe plant are cut, once a year, thus enabling the plant to continue to grow. Each year when the plants flower in the winter months, they produce seeds which drop near the “mother plant” and within a few months the new, baby plants are clearly visible next to the adult. After four years, these new plants are also ready to be tapped. The plants used for production of Totally Wild’s juices and food products are plants which are growing wild, in their natural habitat and are not treated with any fertilisers, pesticides or chemicals of any kind which could impact on the quality of the final product. The harvesters cut approximately 20 – 30 leaves from a mature aloe plant and place these leaves in a circle around a plastic-lined hollow in the ground, with the cut end towards the centre of the circle. This allows the dark brown, bitter sap to drain out of the leaf, where it is later collected and processed into “aloe lump” or “aloe crystal”. This sap occurs in tiny capillaries which are situated between the outer green skin of the leaf and the white, inner flesh. The key feature of the aloe “crystal” is one of the components called “aloin” which has extremely strong laxative properties. This product is exported in bulk to pharmaceutical companies in Europe and the Far East where it is refined and used in many laxative products, produced in these countries as well as in South Africa. The leaves, once drained of the bitter sap, are transported to a pre-processing facility nearby, where they are cleaned, sorted and peeled. The inner flesh is packed in drums and sent to Totally Wild in Cape Town, where it is processed into our aloe products.
An Aloe Tapper places the cut leaves in a “stack” to allow the bitter sap to drain out.